May 8th, 2012
Excellent news for solar in Arizona: late last week, the State Legislature put the final kibosh on a bill that would have permanently capped the amount of clean energy used by Arizonans. With your help we’ve been working to defeat the dangerous and misguided HB 2789, which would have prevented any future increase in the state’s clean energy standard.
The bill squeaked out of the House earlier this spring, but never gained enough steam in the State Senate to get a floor vote, thanks to an outpouring of opposition from Vote Solar members, solar companies and others. Thousands of emails and phone calls went to legislators, reminding them that approving the bill would send a message that the state wasn’t serious about being a clean energy leader and would be bad for the state’s economy. A huge high five to everyone who participated in stopping a disaster in its tracks!
Overall, this was a great year for solar legislation in Arizona, despite ardent efforts from clean energy opponents. As we noted in an earlier blogpost, Governor Brewer signed two pro-solar bills into law in April: HB 2830 removes the 2013 sunset date on school districts’ ability to install solar and other energy-saving measures, and SB 1229 clarifies that the sale of Renewable Energy Credits is not taxable – and also clarifies that customers who are reducing their energy bills through net metering pay sales tax only on the power they DO buy from the grid, not on the power they DON’T buy.
April 11th, 2012
Good news in the desert Southwest: on Tuesday, Governor Jan Brewer signed two solar-friendly bills supported by Vote Solar and our Arizona partners. HB 2830 removes the 2013 sunset date on school districts’ ability to install solar and other energy-saving measures. SB 1229 clarifies that the sale of Renewable Energy Credits is not taxable – and also clarifies that customers who are reducing their energy bills through net metering pay sales tax only on the power they DO buy from the grid, not on the power they DON’T buy (you read correctly: sales tax on electricity you don’t buy. That was an actual concern). Kudos to the Governor for her continued solar leadership and to everyone who supported the bills’ passage. » Read the rest of this entry «
February 28th, 2012
In recent weeks,Vote Solar and our Arizona partners have sounded the alarm about legislation that would stop the state’s clean energy progress in its tracks. (See our previous blog post and a recent Arizona Republic editorial to learn about why Rep. Debbie Lesko’s HB 2789 is such a red-alert threat to the growth of solar markets in the state.) Great news came yesterday, when the Arizona Legislative Council responded to lawmakers’ requests to assess the bill’s legality, stating in a public memo, “HB 2789 would allow the Legislature to usurp the executive authority of the Arizona Corporation Commission and impinge upon the commission’s exclusive ratemaking authority. Therefore, the bill is unconstitutional.”
Well, you can’t get much clearer than that: the Legislature’s own lawyers say that HB 2789 would violate the separation of powers in Arizona. Now we’ll have to wait and see if this spells the end of Lesko’s misguided effort, or if the bill will morph into some other form. We’ll keep you posted.
February 10th, 2012
Clean energy supporters in Arizona are swinging into action to defeat a new bill that would set up a huge roadblock to progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency. (If you live in Arizona, click here to send an email to legislators opposing this solar setback.)
Just introduced by Representative Debbie Lesko, HB 2789 would require the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) — the publicly elected body that has sole authority to regulate power rates under the State Constitution — to get approval from a majority in the Legislature before it can approve or amend programs or policies that would advance renewable energy or energy efficiency. This would add a layer of government regulation with no benefit for Arizonans, who not only directly elect ACC Commissioners but also already have the opportunity to provide comment throughout the ACC decisionmaking process.
In fact, this bill is a thinly veiled attempt to squash progress on clean energy and energy efficiency. Representative Lesko has a history of opposing renewables: see, for example, her failed attempt to pass a bill that would have allowed nuclear energy to count as renewable. In recent years, the ACC has enacted strong new policies like the Renewable Energy Standard that have made Arizona the clean energy powerhouse it is today. But if Lesko’s bill becomes the law of the land, the ACC’s hands will be needlessly tied by a new requirement to first get majority support in both houses of the legislature. That sets up a huge roadblock to the kinds of changes that will be needed to make a clean energy future real in Arizona, and will surely lead to time-consuming and costly lawsuits over who has proper authority.
Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of Arizonans want to build the state’s economy by investing more in solar and other renewables. Passage of HB 2789 would severely hamper the ability of future ACC Commissioners, including those elected in November 2012, to enact public policy that matches the interests of Arizona ratepayers. Members of the House Energy and Natural Resources committee are set to vote on the bill on Monday, Feb 13. Stay tuned!
December 20th, 2011
Regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) put their stamp of approval late last week on a new surcharge unfairly penalizing customers that go solar. The state’s utilities charge customers a monthly fee to help pay for solar-panel rebates and to purchase clean energy to meet the state’s 15% by 2025 renewable energy standard. Until now, those fees were charged based on a customer’s energy use—if you use more power, you pay more of a fee—so that when customers went solar and started feeding a lot of excess clean energy back to the grid via net metering, they would pay less in renewable energy fees. That framework makes sense given that solar customers have already paid thousands of their own dollars to install solar arrays, and are reducing the grid’s need for things like transmission and distribution lines. » Read the rest of this entry «
July 27th, 2011
Today’s Get Some Sun webinar took us to sunny Arizona, where the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun an exciting new effort to identify lands that have minimal resource conflicts, where renewable energy development could be expedited. Via the Restoration Design Energy Project (RDEP), Arizona BLM plans to designate areas – on BLM lands, and on private and state lands as well– that are ideal for renewables and could enjoy streamlined renewable energy permitting. » Read the rest of this entry «
May 24th, 2011
Yesterday, Phoenix-based utility Salt River Project (SRP) missed an important chance to lead on clean energy. As the Arizona Republic reported, the utility’s Board of Directors approved a plan that puts it far behind its neighbor utilities in the race to make Arizona a renewable energy leader. » Read the rest of this entry «
April 4th, 2011
On Friday, Salt River Project, a utility that serves a third of Arizona, announced new ‘Sustainable Portfolio Priniciple’ goals. Perhaps you saw press accounts (Phoenix Business Times, Arizona Republic). What does it mean for renewable energy?
» Read the rest of this entry «
March 28th, 2011
The Salt River Project is a utility that delivers about a third of the electricity in Arizona. Unlike the other utilities in the state, it is not regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission—and not covered by the state’s rules for renewable energy. Instead, it has a voluntary standard that it calls its “Sustainable Portfolio.” SRP is currently in the process of revisiting and revising their renewable procurement efforts, and has commendably opened the effort up to the public for input. » Read the rest of this entry «
November 30th, 2010
In Arizona, the Arizona Corporation Commission just approved Arizona Public Service’s 2011 implementation plan (big PDF) for the Renewable Energy Standard. The plan includes two policies for wholesale distributed generation:
Small Generator Standard Offer. About 95 MW over the next 3 years, for systems sized 2-15 MW. Prices will be set by competitive bids (in previous solicitations, APS indicated that project prices are substantially below 15 cents/kWh). APS will use a standard contract in order to facilitate financing, set a regular interval for solicitations in order to provide for a more continuous market opportunity, and utilize development security in order to prioritize viable projects and reduce speculation and gaming. (This is in addition to the 100 MW AZ SUN utility-owned PV program, and projects under development from previous solicitations) » Read the rest of this entry «