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Renewable energy investment crucial to grow Arizona economy

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It’s been more than a decade since the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff, requiring Arizona utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.

So much has changed since the Republican-led commission in 2006 moved our state toward a healthier and more prosperous future in clean energy.

Indeed, Arizona was a trailblazer for this forward-looking policy. But sadly, we’ve fallen behind. Over the past year, many other states have begun moving towards higher renewable energy standards.

Fred Davis

Fred Davis

The commission is once again poised to discuss its renewable energy policy, and it’s unclear whether commissioners have the wherewithal to increase it, let alone keep it in place.

Here’s a fact: If Arizona doesn’t get on board, we will be sidelined as spectators watching other states reap the economic benefits of solar, wind and other clean resources.

Why? Renewable energy resources have become readily available and are now more affordable than their fossil-fuel counterparts like gas and coal. Study after study from credible, independent sources show that solar and wind are the cheapest technology for producing electricity.

Thankfully, SRP has responded to these lower costs with plans for 1,000 megawatts of solar. In contrast, APS plans only 100 megawatts of solar and will buy energy produced by natural gas, imported from other states.

In fact, APS’s 2017 annual report shows its ownership of solar to be less than 10 percent of the total power they sell. APS ratepayers and Arizona citizens deserve better from our largest electric utility company in the state.

Other states are shutting down natural gas plants and replacing them with cheaper solar and batteries. Yet, APS is paying a third party to produce our power with natural gas. That production and the vast majority of those jobs reside out of state.

While renewable energy has proven to offer lower emissions, we must also consider the significant impact it has on in-state job growth, economic development and benefits for large and small businesses. As more renewable energy practices are established and implemented in Arizona, more jobs will be created. From construction to advanced technology jobs, Arizona employment will see an immediate uptick.

As a ratepayer, I would like for the power I use to be clean, cheap and healthy. And made by Arizona workers with abundant Arizona sunshine. Raising the renewable energy standard to meet or even exceed the goals of other states should be strongly supported. Raising our standards not only means getting on board with the goals of other states, but also sends the message that Arizona is an economic leader.

We all know that implementing higher renewable energy standards in Arizona will help reduce emissions, diversify our energy and set the stage for a sustainable future – and that’s important.

But, investing in the business of renewable energy is crucial for supporting a growing Arizona economy.

Fred Davis is a concerned Arizona resident. 

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