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Steyer: APS using “dishonest tactics” against clean energy initiative

In this photo taken Wednesday, June 27, 2018, environmental activist & billionaire Tom Steyer poses at his offices in San Francisco. Arizona’s largest utility is fiercely opposing a push to mandate increased use of renewable energy in the sun-drenched state, setting up a political fight over the measure funded by Steyer. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

In this photo taken Wednesday, June 27, 2018, environmental activist & billionaire Tom Steyer poses at his offices in San Francisco. Arizona’s largest utility is fiercely opposing a push to mandate increased use of renewable energy in the sun-drenched state, setting up a political fight over the measure funded by Steyer. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Billionaire Democratic mega-donor Tom Steyer criticized the state’s largest electric company and the biggest competitor of his clean energy ballot initiative Friday for using shady tactics to block a public vote of the renewable energy measure in November.

Steyer also hypothesized Arizona Public Service might be willing to make a deal to boost its renewable energy production if the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona ballot initiative makes it on the ballot.

The California environmentalist and founder of NextGen Climate Action, which is pushing the ballot initiative to mandate half of all electricity produced in Arizona come from renewable energy sources, sat down with the Arizona Capitol Times Friday.

The clean energy initiative will be tied up in court starting Monday as attorneys representing Arizonans for Affordable Electricity — an opposition group funded by APS — work to knock the measure off the ballot. The group has done everything possible to keep the ballot initiative from qualifying by first employing an extensive PR campaign to prevent people from signing the ballot petitions to now challenging the initiative in court in a trial that could take up to five days.

“They’ve been making up lies,” Steyer said. “If I were them, I would be embarrassed to have come up with these extremely flimsy and dishonest tactics.”

The clean energy campaign turned in about 480,000 signatures and need 225,963 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Attorneys allege a huge chunk of the signatures are in invalid because they belong to people who are not registered to vote in Arizona, were collected by convicted felons — who are not allowed to collect signatures — or are simply fraudulent signatures, among a host of other objections to the collected signatures. Attorneys for Arizonans for Affordable Energy also charge the clean energy initiative knowingly submitted invalid signatures.

Arizonans for Affordable Electricity spokesman Matthew Benson fired back at Steyer, saying the clean energy campaign is built around fraud and deception.

“We believe Arizonans should set Arizona energy policies, not California billionaires,” he said in a statement. “We also believe Arizona families will reject Prop 127 once they learn it will double their electricity bills.”

The secretary of state’s office said this week that barring a legal upset in court next week, the clean energy initiative submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot as Proposition 127.

Steyer praised news of the initiative’s certification, taking it as a likely sign voters will get to decide on the renewable energy measure this fall.

The all-out fight APS has put up against the initiative is unlike any Steyer has seen before. He is pushing the same initiative in Nevada, where the state’s utility has taken a neutral stance. He also pushed a clean energy measure in Michigan this year, but in May, the state’s dominant utilities committed to increase their renewable energy output to 25 percent by 2030 in exchange for Steyer ending his ballot drive.

Steyer said he could see a similar outcome in Arizona, though he was skeptical APS would be willing to make a deal.

“From our standpoint, we would think that at some point, APS is going to realize they’re on the wrong side of history and they’re on the wrong side of this argument and they’re going to want to work out something sensible that the people of Arizona will like,” he said.

Benson did not comment when asked if APS would be willing to compromise on renewable energy issues. Steyer would not say how much money NextGen will pour into defending the ballot initiative if APS doesn’t try to settle.

APS and Republican politicians have tried to frame Steyer as a boogeyman-type who is meddling in Arizona politics. Steyer brushed off the attacks as “scare tactics.”

“I’m not dictating policy, we’re just trying to give Arizonans a say,” he said.

The most recent round of campaign finance reports showed Pinnacle West Corp., the parent company of APS poured $7.53 million into its fight against the clean energy measure. In comparison, Steyer’s group had put in $4.5 million.

Steyer was in the Valley on Friday for an event at Arizona State University, one of the 25 Arizona campuses where his NextGen Rising youth vote program is working to boost voter registration among young Arizonans. While Steyer has conducted his youth vote program in other states before, this is the first year he has rolled out such an initiative in Arizona — spending $3 million in the process.

NextGen has registered more than 9,000 new young Arizona voters so far this year, according to the group.

Despite creating the largest youth vote mobilization effort in America, most young voters don’t recognize Steyer.

“I think they think I’m an overdressed elderly gentleman,” said Steyer, 61.

Steyer, who is seen as a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020, has also fronted a push to impeach President Donald Trump.


  1. APS is just protecting their status as the only game in town when it comes to electric power through most of the Arizona. The Company, APS, like most electric utilities in rural America has been the recipient of what most likely amounts to billions of dollars in subsidies from the federal and state government over the decades it has been in operation. I believe the program was called “The Rural Electrification Act” started in the early part of the last century and subsidized the infrastructure and operation of much of the electric power in the sparsely populated states of the Union, guaranteeing them a profit from day one. Some are still collecting from the Fed and it is likely APS is one of those. They surely don’t want the “rate payer” or some upstart selling solar to compete for dollars or create a lessening of demand for their product.

  2. We don’t need billionaire Tom Steyer from California putting initiatives on our ballot here in AZ. His initiative will only increase utility costs for everyone and make our electricity less reliable. If Steyer truly cared about cost effective and reliable electricity he would have included nuclear in his bill but he did not. I’m very pleased with APS. They offer reliable power. The fact that they are being forced into so called renewables is one reason they need to raise rates. If the technology for “renewables” was ready we would not need to be subsidizing it, and people who want it could purchase it. I hope the so called Clean Energy initiative fails at the ballot box. I live in Flagstaff where winter outages in snow storms happen. APS is always on top of repairs, even in the worst weather conditions. They run an excellent operation.

  3. While I have had no complaints as a customer of APS over the past 20 years in AZ, living in two different geographic areas of our state, and always felt that there needed to be a fair deal for them in this issue of solar using the APS infrastructure (not their excessive proposal of $100 fee per month), I sold my stock in the company a couple of years ago as I watched their dealings with the AZ Corp Commission become more and more shady. I now see them as a corrupt entity and if I could have a different energy provider, I would switch.

  4. I just received a flyer in the mail yesterday from Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona. I thought it was odd that a group so passionate about a renewable energy ballot measure would not include the text of the measure so I did some followup. In browsing around their website, I was unable to locate the actual text of the ballot measure as well. Even the FAQ on their site answers a question about the text of the measure with their own summary. Even odder when you search the web for the text and find out that Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona is the one placing the AMENDMENT TO THE ARIZONA STATE CONSTITUTION on the ballot. If you go to their homepage, they have prominently displayed “Arizonans — not utility companies — should control their energy future. ”

    Tom Steyer funds this organization. Why should Mr. Steyer be making decisions for Arizonans in any capacity? Does he have investments he stands to gain from if Arizona is forced to live under his initiative? This organization tells us only 6% Arizona energy usage is from renewable sources – even with generous subsidies provider by the taxpayers.

    This smacks of the same tactics used to sell Obamacare. We are going to reduce the cost of renewable energy even though it is a fact that it is much higher cost and does have a significant environmental impact while at the same time paying the wages of thousands of new jobs.

    It does not take a lot of education to spot dishonesty and Steyer has proven himself to be full of it. Steyer is not looking out for Arizonans best interest anymore than Obama was looking out for your health. I really do not believe most Democrats want to become socialists.

    This smacks of the Obamacare sell. According to this organization,

  5. I don’t think people really are getting the point about this 127. For starts we have a Mr. Steyer who is not from Arizona pushing to change the way we are doing things in Arizona. Second if you look at Mr. Steyer portfolio he is heavily invested in solar so if he gets this to pass he looking at making a lot of money off his investments. Also solar is not a green as everyone thinks it is. The process to make the panels is very toxic and not environmentally friendly . Example the solar panel plant maker that closed in Colorado that land is not usable. Also solar panels out put goes down as it gets hotter. Next is solar panels only have a life span of about 15 years so how are we going to dispose of them. You can’t just throw them in the landfill. California right now is having a major issue with electricity since they went so heavy in solar. They have to pay other states to take there electricity and also the consumer is paying higher cost and has to deal with black outs caused from solar output dropping when everyone is coming home from work. Palo Verde is a good plant that does not out co2 emissions. It runs no matter what the weather condition is outside. Why mess with something that ain’t broke. I am not against solar but nuclear needs to be in the mix and also needs to be considered as a renewable. It all boils down to what cost are we willing to pay to enjoy are luxuries in life.

  6. I live in Chandler and started a solar lease in 2010. My system has been very reliable even in the summer months. My SRP electric bill for August (2018) was $89.55 and is the highest bill I get for the year. My house is about 1300 square feet. Many of my friends are interested in solar, but current regulations make the fees on solar keep it from saving people money and utilities get to sell the power put on the grid for full price. If this bill passes the utility companies will encourage rooftop solar and eliminate the fees. Energy generated by Palo Verde is not a competitor of solar. If we increase the amount of energy we generated here in Arizona we can sell any excess power to our neighboring States and that will drive down the energy costs to the people of Arizona. That is why I support passing 127.

  7. Too bad we can’t keep unsavory people from becoming billionaires. Tom Steyer has an obsession: “Global Warming.” He hates Donald Trump because The Donald doesn’t share Steyer’s unwelcome move to use his money to outflank, and out-spend an entire state to get his way. He is imposing his will on the people of Arizona to force the people’s to support Steyer’s excessive greed by lying to them by leaving out the important truths about his motives. Tim Naegele, another Californian, is a marvelous lawyer. He has published papers explaining why “Global Warming” is a SCAM. He calls it: “The $37 Trillion Swindle.” Tim is a Californian, too, but he points out that those who back the Global Warming Fairy Tale all belong to a committee of scientists who get paid by billionaires like Steyer to say that they agree there is a Global Warming problem. And these same scientists WILL NOT GET PAID if they don’t agree each year — regardless of the proof against Global Warming which is getting more powerful every day.

    Steyer accuses the Electric Utilities of lying to the people about his initiative called, “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona.” Yet, all of his mailings, commercials, and speeches are packed with lies (I received one in the mail today). They never point out that his petition REQUIRES AN AMENDMENT TO THE ARIZONA STATE CONSTITUTION THAT WILL COST JOBS! How’s that for Steyer’s telling the truth (while leaving out what’s important to Arizonans) to get his way.

    VOTE NO ON 147 ARIZONA. Anything changing the Constitution of Arizona is not good. Don’t be fooled.

  8. Oops! Typo. My original POST against Steyer’s attempt at changing the Arizona Constitution to Eliminate Jobs referred to Prop 147. ERROR! VOTE “NO!” ON PROP 127. He lives in California. Let him use California as his test kitchen. See what California does with his initiative to required that 50% of all energy used by the state would have to be solar or wind (but without nuclear). That will KILL JOBS.

    Sorry about the error. I hope this will fix it. This publication doesn’t allow editing after submission.

  9. I am definitely voting YES on Prop 127. Having lived in other states where solar was available, my utility bill was less than a $100. Here in Arizona, my summer bill runs between $700-800 per month! Solar is definitely cheaper. I checked the facts and the ads running stating California’s costs increased 3 times as much is bogus and untrue (fake news!). Of course the utility companies are paying billions to convince you that Prop 127 is bad for Arizona. We are lucky to live in a year-round warm state and need to take advantage of the resources we have that other states do not. As for the Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare), my daughter just had her gallbladder removed – Dignity Health charged $47,000 for the operation. I am so thankful that she is covered under my policy until she is 26 otherwise I don’t know how we would have paid it.

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