Arizona Regulators Pass 100% Clean Energy by 2050 Rule for Investor-Owned Utilities

A major clean energy policy cleared Arizona’s utility regulator,
and now heads to stakeholder comment before it can take effect.

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 4 to 1 Friday to
approve a suite of amendments to its energy rules, which amount to
a systemic commitment to clean energy. The
new rules
would require�for the state’s investor-owned
utilities to phase out fossil fuels from the grid by 2050, a goal

already promised
by the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public
Service. They also require that energy storage systems make up 5
percent of those utilities’ grid capacity by 2035 and that 40
percent of that total be customer-owned or leased. 

A few steps remain for the rules to enter force, as dictated by
the state’s rulemaking procedures. The Secretary of State needs to
post the rules for a public comment period. After that, the
commission will take a final yes or no vote in early 2021. But the
hard work of hammering out the policy itself has finished.

“The meeting today was to make sure there was a final, clean
package that the commissioners were able to look at and adopt,”
said Art Terrazas, who worked on this effort for advocacy group
Vote Solar. With the successful vote, the clean energy policy cake
has been baked, he said.

The makeup of the commission will have changed when it
reconvenes for the final vote. Three
seats were up for election
November 3, and two Republicans and
one Democrat won their races. That creates some uncertainty about
the final outcome.

But the energy rules passed Friday by a 4 to 1 vote. One of the
newly elected commissioners, Democrat Anna Tovar, ran on a clean
energy platform. Republican incumbent Lea Márquez Peterson won
another term, and she joined the majority in Friday’s vote. The
numbers suggest a majority will remain in favor of the policy after
the new commissioners take their seats.

“The hard policy work is never done, but this is a big and
important step and can be sustained by the new commission,” said
Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Arizona chapter, in an
email Friday.

Whether or not to move away from fossil fuels become a
flashpoint in the final days of the presidential election. But in
Arizona, a long-time Republican stronghold that flipped for
Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 Election, the politics of clean
energy do not mirror the national political discourse. With ample
sunlight and a dry climate, solar paired with batteries started
beating out new gas plants in competitive solicitations back in
2018.  

“The economics are now matching up with what’s also best for
the environment,” Terrazas said. “There’s broad bipartisan
consensus that that is where we’re going to go.”

For more details on the contents of Arizona’s clean energy
overhaul, see GTM’s
previous reporting
.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Arizona Regulators Pass 100% Clean Energy by 2050 Rule for
Investor-Owned Utilities