FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 26, 2022
Sandy Bahr, firstname.lastname@example.org, (602) 999-5790
Arizona Corporation Commission Kills Energy Rules
Defeats Clean Energy and Accountability Measures
PHOENIX, AZ － Today, following nearly four years of workshops, public meetings, and thousands of supportive comments, including the support of both small and large businesses, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted down an energy rules package along party lines.
Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar voted yes on the widely supported rules and Commissioners Lea Márquez-Peterson, Justin Olson, and Jim O’Connor voted no. The rules died after Commissioner O’Connor flipped his vote to no after voting yes on the exact same rule package late in 2021.
The rules would have created a Clean Energy Standard to reduce carbon emissions, an energy efficiency standard to reduce electricity consumption and save ratepayers dollars, more accountable and transparent resource planning provisions, and a requirement to give favorable siting consideration for clean energy projects in coal-impacted communities, among other things.
“The failure of the ACC to adopt a robust energy rule is a huge setback for clean energy and holding utilities accountable for their climate-harming pollution. Notable are the lack of leadership by Chairwoman Márquez-Peterson, who had the opportunity to lead the Commission in adopting strong clean energy rules, and the about face on the rules by Commissioner O’Connor after a compromise rule was developed. Today, the Commission has done nothing to protect our health, conserve water, and give us cleaner air; nothing to help provide additional jobs and reduce carbon emissions. Nothing to put Arizona on track for a clean energy future,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Arizonans have repeatedly and frequently voiced their support for transitioning away from fossil fuels that harm our health and the climate to a clean, and sustainable energy system, including in communities most impacted by coal plants and their pollution. The Commission just did not listen.”
Community groups, environmental organizations, local governments, big and small businesses, faith leaders, and consumer advocates had all repeatedly expressed support for the Clean Energy Rules and were disappointed the Commission could not bring them across the finish line.
“The ultimate question is ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?’ More than 125 Arizona clergy and faith leaders have gone on record to affirm that ‘this is the time to take a stand, kick our addictions to fossil fuels and make a bold move to clean energy,’ said Rev. Doug Bland, Arizona Interfaith Power & Light. “We believe that establishing bold energy rules is one important way we can love our neighbors. Sadly, the AZ Corporation Commission has not advanced the bold energy rules we had anticipated.”
Communities of color and Indigenous nations, like the Navajo and Hopi, have put up with decades of pollution and contamination to power cities across the West, and the utilities, which profited as a result, have a responsibility to support a just and equitable transition to clean energy to help protect Arizona’s most vulnerable communities from unfair environmental and economic challenges. The Clean Energy Rules would have ensured favorable siting for renewable energy resources in these coal-impacted communities.
“For Navajo and Hopi, the energy and water crisis is now. For nearly 50 years, our communities provided the coal and water that powered Arizona. Our water, our land, our health were sacrificed so the rest of the state could thrive, and the rules had provisions that helped begin to address that injustice. It’s shameful that the Commission failed to pass the energy rules – they’ve once again failed the people and communities they were elected to serve.”– Nicole Horseherder, Executive Director, Tó Nizhóní Ání
The rules would have saved ratepayers dollars and provided enormous economic benefits. Business leaders spoke in support of the rules, recognizing their value for Arizona’s economy. In January 2021, Stategen released a report that found that adopting the original draft Clean Energy Rules would not only significantly reduce carbon emissions to address the climate crisis, but also create an economic windfall of $2 billion for Arizona.
Amanda Ormond, Director of Western Grid Group points out that comprehensive energy rules would have created a roadmap for the future and a stable investment climate. Instead, she said, “debating rules governing investment by utilities for years, only to adopt nothing puts for-profit utilities in the driver’s seat rather than the regulators we elected to ensure energy decisions are in the public interest.”