Posted by 10 April 2018
In November, Arizona voters may decide how much of their electricity must come from renewable energy. In anticipation, legislators are already passing bills on this issue. Renewable energy advocates, however, are not happy with what lawmakers are doing.
California billionaire Tom Steyer is bankrolling a movement to put a strict renewable energy mandate on the state ballot. This initiative would require that 50% of all electricity in the state must be generated from renewable sources by 2030. Nuclear power could not be counted as “renewable energy.” Current Arizona regulations mandate that 15% of all electricity must be from renewable sources by 2025.
Legislators responded by passing legislation specifying that if voters approve the initiative, the maximum fine that utilities would face for violating it would be $5,000. They are also considering placing an alternative measure on the ballot that would also impose a 50% renewable energy mandate, but allow it not to be implemented if it would raise consumers’ electricity rates.
Renewable energy advocates say that the legislature is trying to undermine their goal of forcing state utilities to produce cleaner energy. They contend that the legislation capping fines for non-compliant utilities essentially gives these utilities a license to ignore the new mandate, since the cost for violating it would be minimal. They also say that the alternative ballot proposal is a blatant attempt to confuse voters.
Those backing these legislative renewable energy measures counter that they are protecting Arizonans from out-of-state interest groups that are looking to confuse voters with an initiative that will impose heavy costs on consumers. Legislators say that they are merely giving Arizonans an alternative choice through another ballot measure. With renewable energy sources less reliable and more expensive than traditional energy sources, they contend, this referendum would give voters who support renewable energy more flexibility.
It remains to be seen if either of these measures will be on November’s ballot.
Do you think it is a good idea to mandate that 50% of Arizona’s energy must come from renewable energy sources?