For Immediate Release: 26 January 2022
Arizona Regulators Reject Pathway to 100% Clean Energy
Corporation Commission votes 2-3, rejecting new clean energy requirements
Phoenix, AZ - Today, the Arizona Corporation Commission failed to approve new rules that would have required 50% carbon emission reduction by 2032 and 100% by 2070. The rules, known as the Energy Rules, have undergone many iterations over multiple years with diverse stakeholder input and broad public support.
The passage of the Energy Rules would have meant cleaner air, healthier communities, progress on a just and equitable transition, and more local jobs. Studies show that Arizonans could have realized billions in energy benefits if the rules passed. But when faced with the opportunity to drive Arizona towards progress, Commissioners O’Connor, Marquez Peterson, and Olson missed a huge opportunity to lead.
“The vast majority of Arizonans want updated clean energy requirements that will keep us competitive with our neighbors and the rest of the country, but our elected representatives on the Corporation Commission aren’t actually representing Arizonans,” said Yara Marin, Regional Director, Interior West at Vote Solar. “This is not the first time the Commission has delayed or dismissed this critical step toward an equitable clean energy future. It is unfortunate that our commissioners will allow our sunny state of Arizona to fall behind when we could easily be a leader in renewable energy.”
A 2020 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Vote Solar found that 65% of Arizonans favor 100% clean energy by 2050. A December 2021 poll by the American Lung Association found similar results, including that 80% of Arizona voters want more solar. A broad set of organizations and companies in Arizona also supported the rules including Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power, the Sierra Club, Arizona Technology Council, The Western Way, Ceres, Advanced Energy Economy, Interwest Energy Alliance, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, and the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, among many others.
“Today the sun set on what should have been a shining opportunity to advance clean energy in Arizona,” said Bret Fanshaw, Arizona Program Director at Solar United Neighbors. “Commissioners should be ashamed at wasting this chance to ensure Arizona families have greater access to clean and low-cost energy technologies.”
In addition to emission reduction requirements, the comprehensive Energy Rules package also included an increase to the state’s energy efficiency standard, reforms to the commission’s integrated resource planning process, and an innovative new battery storage standard. The first-of-its-kind battery storage standard included a carveout for residential customer participation, as well as requirements for utilities to offer upfront incentives and tariff programs to battery storage users.
“The Corporation Commission closed the door on a huge opportunity for economic development in our state. Solar already employs more than 7,000 people in Arizona and a strong commitment to move to 100% decarbonization would have positively contributed to our local economy,” said Autumn Johnson, Executive Director at Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association. “Instead, the Commission has wasted more than three years of government and stakeholder time and resources and has failed to take action to move toward our clean energy future. Anyone who cares about the environment, clean energy, or our economy should be disappointed.”
Vote Solar’s mission is to make solar a mainstream energy resource across the U.S. Since 2002, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Vote Solar advocates for state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy. Vote Solar works to remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale.
Solar United Neighbors is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit. SUN is a community of people building a new energy system with rooftop solar at the cornerstone. We help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights. We envision a clean, equitable energy system that directs control and benefits back to local communities, with solar on every roof and money in every pocket.
Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) is a 501(c)(6) trade organization and the state chapter of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). AriSEIA works to develop and support policies that create opportunities to advance Arizona’s economy through solar energy and storage. We advocate for sustainable job creation and encourage utilization of Arizona’s greatest natural resource, the sun.
On November 2, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted its final approval to eliminate Arizona Public Service (APS) company’s “grid access charge,” ending a decade-old unfair practice of charging residential solar customers a discriminatory fee. The grid access fee, averaged about $100 per year per solar customer. The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) argued that the fee unfairly targeted solar customers under the pretense that it cost more to provide them with electricity costs.
AriSEIA and SEIA testified against the charges demonstrating that solar customers paid their fair share of grid costs compared to non-solar customers.
“This is an issue of a charge that tens of thousands of customers are paying,” said lawyer Court Rich, representing AriSEIA and SEIA. “It’s a charge that the commission has absolutely no way of knowing if it should be charged or at what level it should be charged at. It is about as egregious of a rate-making device as you could have.”
“I appreciate the partnership between AriSEIA and SEIA to participate in this rate case” said Sara Birmingham, Senior Director at SEIA and AriSEIA Board member. “Arizona got rid of an unjustified and outdated charge that has been a drag on the Arizona solar economy. This change will more fairly recognize the benefits of local solar adoption and we hope we can expand solar accessibility to even more Arizonans.”
In addition to the grid access charge, positive outcomes were achieved in revising the rules for adopting energy storage systems. The Commission made revisions to both the large customer storage rate (E-32 L), and residential (R-Tech) program to make them more user friendly for Arizona businesses and residents to install energy storage systems, as well as system sizing rules.
A large congratulations is in order to the Arizona Corporation Commission for its bipartisan resolution of APS’ rate case. And a huge thank you to our Vice President of the Board – Court Rich for all his efforts in representing AriSEIA and SEIA before the commission and successful achievement of a long list of victories for rooftop solar and distributed battery storage in this case.
The Arizona State Legislature adjourned at 4:54 pm on 06/30/2021. For a total of 171 days of session, tied for the third longest session with 1993. This year, 1,774 bills were introduced, the legislature passed 473 of those bills (27%), as of 7/1/2021 the governor has signed 412 of the bills and vetoed 27 bills. This means that 34 bills remain on his desk where he has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign, veto or allow the bill to become law without his signature. All legislation has an effective date of September 29, 2021 unless otherwise specified within the legislation.
This year, AriSEIA actively engaged in a handful of legislative efforts that would have directly impacted the Solar Energy Industry.
HB 2248 Corporation Commission; Electric Generation Resources – Opposed with Lobbying
Sponsored by Representative Gail Griffin – R
The bill would remove the ability of the Arizona Corporation Commission to establish energy policy and restrict the Commission to rate-making authority. The legislation was aimed solely at limiting the Commission's ability to act on the Clean Energy Rules package as a retroactive date of June 30, 2020 was included in the legislation.
Though this bill made its way through the House of Representatives and did receive a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee, AriSEIA lobbied in opposition to the legislation and it was ultimately held, receiving no further legislative action in the Senate Rules Committee, thus died.
SB 1175 Corporation Commission; Electric Generation Resources – Opposed with Lobbying
Sponsored by Senator Sine Kerr – R
This bill is the mirrored version of HB 2248. The bill would remove the ability of the Arizona Corporation Commission to establish energy policy and restrict the Commission to rate-making authority. The legislation was aimed solely at limiting the Commission's ability to act on the Clean Energy Rules package as a retroactive date of June 30, 2020 was included in the legislation.
In the Senate, AriSEIA lobbied against this legislation and though this bill did pass through the Senate Natural Resources, Water and Energy Committee, it ultimately failed to progress through the legislative process and died.
HB 2737 Corporation Commission Actions: Investigation – Opposed with Lobbying
Sponsored by Representative Jacqueline Parker – R
This bill would have allowed any legislator to challenge any non-ratemaking decision of the Arizona Corporation Commission by filing a complaint with the Arizona Attorney General’s office. If found to exceed the Commission’s authority, the commission would lose 10% of its budget for the year. This bill passed through the House Committee of the Whole process on, however, did receive opposition from both Democratic and Republican members, and ultimately failed in the process.
As a member of AriSEIA, we fight for the continued protection of the Solar Energy Industry and your livelihood. We understand that day in and day out your focus is on your business. That is where AriSEIA steps in. As a member organization, we focus on your behalf and champion the passage of pro-solar energy policies and regulations and defeat measures that present harm and detriment to the industry. But we couldn’t do it without you. Your responsiveness to Calls for Action when asked to ask and your continued commitment to AriSEIA allows for us all to thrive.
If you know of an industry partner or solar company that you believe could benefit from membership in AriSEIA, please pass along their information to me at Nicole@AriSEIA.org so that I can follow up with them and continue to build on our associations efforts to bring Arizona to the forefront of the Solar Energy Industry
Twenty Organizations Applaud Arizona Corporation Commission Vote to Establish Carbon-Free Electricity Standard
Twenty organizations applauded a vote today by Arizona Corporation Commissioners requiring utilities to be 100% carbon-free by 2050 and meet benchmarks along the way. The bipartisan decision also established a new energy efficiency policy to help customers save money on their electricity bills.
Click here to read the press release about this historic advancement for Arizona!
For many of us, November 3 was a date we were excited to have come and go. As a political wonk, often times Election Day has been referred to as my Olympics. And as of this morning, two-days post-election, we are still awaiting the Presidential outcome, Arizona has a new Arizona State Senator, and a flip of the Arizona State House of Representatives to blue appears to not have happened.
Recently, AriSEIA invited all six Arizona Corporation Commission candidates to participate in our candidate series. This series was an opportunity for members of AriSEIA and the public to hear directly from the candidates to gain a better understanding of their views on the solar and renewable energy industry in Arizona. Ultimately, three out of the six who were invited chose to participate in the series: former Commissioner Bill Mundell, Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar, and former Cave Creek Councilwoman Shea Stanfield.
This week, the Arizona Corporation Commission heard UNS, TEP and APS’s application for a revised Rate Rider Resource Comparison Proxy (RCP). The RCP is a proxy for the avoided cost of providing electrical service that results when a distributed generator exports power to the grid. An RCP rate is determined for each tranche of new Distributed Generation customer effective October 1 of each year without prorations. Additionally, as established in the Value and Cost of Distributed Generation, the RCP rate may not be reduced by more than 10 percent each year.
AriSEIA will be hosting a virtual discussion on the Interconnection of Distributed Generation Facilities on August 27, 2020 at 2:00 pm. This is a member only engagement designed to solicit input and discuss issues related to the utilities’ released Interconnection Manual filings. These Manuals will have a large impact on the day to day operations of solar installers, and we are seeking input from members on complications with interconnection that may be solved in the manuals.
Last week, Arizona held their Primary Elections. As suspected, a number of elections were determined in the race, but there were also some surprises and upsets. After all the ballots were counted, two incumbents in the Senate and one incumbent in the House will not be returning.
I wanted to provide a quick update on the legislative session. On May 26, 2020 the Fifty-fourth Legislature – Second Regular Session adjourned Sine Die at 11:21 am. The total days of session were 135 days, 1,607 bills were introduced, 90 were passed by the legislature, as to date zero bills have been vetoed and 58 bills have been signed by Governor Doug Ducey.
By way of background, the legislature adjourned on March 23, 2020, as a result of increased concerns related to COVID-19. The initial adjournment was to run until April 15, 2020, but with the governors Stay Home – Stay Safe Executive Order, the adjournment was extended until April 30, 2020.
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