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Arizona utility regulators vote to be carbon-free by 2050

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Posted at 12:30 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-30 15:30:05-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) passed a plan Thursday to require regulated utilities to reduce carbon emissions by 100% by the year 2050.

The plan also includes interim targets of 50% reductions by 2032, and 75% by 2040.

In a 3-2 decision, Chairman Bob Burns, Commissioner Boyd Dunn, and Sandra Kennedy voted in favor of the measure.

"I am glad the Commission was finally able to look past partisan politics to support science and economics-based policy that stakeholders, utilities, and ratepayers could all agree upon and benefit from," Kennedy said in a statement.

Commissioners Lea Marquez-Peterson and Justin Olson voted against.

Marquez-Peterson, who is running to keep her seat on the Commission, said she was disappointed that the proposal included a renewable energy standard.

"I'm not supportive of a mandate that guarantees a recoverable expense at the next rate case," she said.

Marquez-Peterson also argued that utilities have already committed to meeting goals that are similar to those in the new rules.

In his dissent, Olson said he was "frustrated" that the Commission was adopting what he called standards similar to Proposition 127, a voter-rejected 2018 measure that would have changed the state constitution to implement emissions reduction. Olson repeatedly voiced his concern that the requirements would cost utilities more to put into place which would be passed along to ratepayers. His amendment that would have capped that spending at $1 million per year failed.

Burns originally recessed the meeting after he announced that a family member of Commissioner Kennedy was unexpectedly hospitalized. The meeting resumed in the afternoon with Kennedy participating remotely from the hospital.

Once considered a national leader, Arizona's clean energy standards have remained largely unchanged since first being adopted in 2006.

The Commission will schedule a final vote after the approved amendments are reviewed and compiled into a complete rules package by the Commission's legal staff.