Arizona Poised to Expand Renewable Energy 15% by 2025

On Friday, October 27, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will vote on a proposed rule that would require 15% of electricity sold by utilities to come from renewable energy resources like wind, geothermal and biomass by 2025. If adopted, the new Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff also makes specific provisions for distributed generation, which could result in up to 2,000 MW of solar on Arizona roofs.

According to Adam Browning, executive director of The Vote Solar Initiative, if the more aggressive Renewable Energy Standard is adopted it will position Arizona — with its abundant solar resources — as the second largest solar program in the U.S. “This would put Arizona in the top two or three states in the country in terms of solar, right behind California and potentially ahead of New Jersey,” said Browning. Funding for the Renewable Energy Standard will be provided through a tariff assessment of $0.004988 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) with monthly impacts capped at $1.05 for residential customers, $39 for small commercial, and $117 for large commercial. The proposed rules also allow for new and emerging technologies to be added as they become feasible. The ACC’s vote later this week marks the end of a lengthy two-year process to revise and expand Arizona’s current Environmental Portfolio Standard, which requires just 1.1 percent of electricity sold in the state to come from renewables. This past February, after months of filings and testimony, the ACC voted 3-2 to move forward with formal rulemaking to expand the state’s renewable portfolio standard. “In 2001, when we passed the current rules we were the first state to do so. Arizona was on the cutting edge. Now we’ve fallen behind. By passing these rules, we’ve put Arizona back in the forefront of renewable energy. Not only will we have cleaner air and conserve our water, we will create jobs and economic development in Arizona. This is a vote for our children and grandchildren,” stated Commissioner Bill Mundell in February. But when final deliberations begin on Friday morning, it’s anyone’s best guess what the outcome of the vote will be. That’s why Vote Solar, the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), and many other advocates are urging residents to show support for the proposed rule by “packing the hearing room” the day of the vote — as well as submitting letters to the editors electronically right up to the last minute. “The vote is expected to be close,” said Browning, noting that Commissioners Mundell and Kristin K. Mayes have been long-standing and strong supporters of renewables. Overall, Browning considers the efforts to get the ACC to adopt the Renewable Energy Standard a success citing more than 10,000 people have contacted the Commission. But the fight isn’t over yet. “What we really need is a physical presence. We need people to show up the morning of the vote,” he said.
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