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Will the Corporation Commission be able to take a bow?

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The spotlight has been shining bright on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Since the start of the year, utility disconnection policies, rate cases, deregulation, Arizona Public Service Co. customer education, Johnson Utilities & EPCOR, CenturyLink and 911, and numerous other issues have taken center stage.

The scene is now being set for energy rules, with a workshop scheduled for this Tuesday and Wednesday. With a backdrop of successful policies – Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard and Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard – and the highly speculated integration of a Clean Energy Standard and an improved process for Integrated Resource Plans, one would expect a strong sequel.

Diane E. Brown

Diane E. Brown

However, Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard – the widely celebrated and beloved star of energy policies – is missing from what Commission staff has produced. Commission staff need to take their cues from Commissioners – each of whom deserves props for recognizing the value of and signaling support for energy efficiency. And for good reason.

Energy efficiency, which reduces electricity waste, is both the least-cost energy option available and a smart investment. From 2010-2017, every $1 of ratepayer money invested in energy efficiency by Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power returned about $4.00 in benefits to ratepayers.

Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard has provided savings equivalent to the energy use of more than 500,000 homes, saved more than 14 million gallons of water, and produced more than $1 billion in net economic benefits.

Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard is supported by residential ratepayers living in both urban and rural areas of our state. Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard is supported by non-profits ranging from consumer organizations to public health groups to faith-based entities. Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard is supported by small businesses such as art galleries, barber shops, boutique stores and restaurants.

The often-cited reasons for the chorus of support for Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard include pocketbook savings, air quality and public health benefits, job creation, and avoiding the cost of transmission, distribution and other significant capital expenditures.

Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard deserves the rave reviews it has received and deserves to be extended vs. cancelled, which is what will happen if Commissioners fail to act soon.

Commissioners, who sit in the directors’ chairs, can and should extend and expand Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard to 35% by 2035, providing an encore to the pragmatic framework of an annual increase of energy savings as well as accountability measures such as implementation plans. Only then should they take a bow.

Diane E. Brown is the Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on issues in the public interest. More information can be found at www.arizonapirgedfund.org & www.energyefficientarizona.org

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