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Clean energy rules package advanced by Arizona Corporation Commission

Arizona Corporation Commission
Posted at 7:04 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 22:09:25-04

PHOENIX — The Arizona Corporation Commission voted 3 to 2 to advance a clean energy rules package that would require regulated utilities to get power from 100% carbon-free sources by 2070, on Wednesday.

The compromise was led by four joint amendments from Commissioner Anna Tovar, a Democrat, and Jim O'Connor, a Republican.

The deal included interim carbon emission reduction standards of 50% by the end of 2032, 65% by the end of 2040, 80% by the end of 2050, and 90% by the end of 2060.

Original rules that had set the 100% target date at 2050 failed to get the votes needed during a May 5 meeting, after last-minute amendments changed emission reduction requirements to goals resulted in Tovar and fellow Democrat Sandra Kennedy to pull their support for the weakened rules.

That failure prompted Kennedy, to ask Chairwoman Lea Marquez Peterson to bring the issue back for reconsideration in special open meeting.

It's a request she granted with the strong urging that Commissioners docket compromises that they were willing to make to get the rules passed.

Much of Wednesday's open meeting revolved around whether or not to incorporate goals into the rules.

The rejection of Marquez Peterson's suggestion to make the 50% emissions cut by 2032 a goal instead of a standard, sealed her opposition to the rules package.

"For me, it's particularly important that that short term timeframe be a goal rather than a mandate. And that's the piece that I'm hung up on," she told Commissioners.

In the end Commissioners Tovar, O'Connor and Kennedy voted to move the rules forward.

Marquez Peterson and fellow Republican Justin Olson voted against it.

Olson has consistently opposed the clean energy rules citing concerns that requiring utilities to meet specific targets without capping how much they can earn would drive up rates.

The approval restarts the formal rulemaking process which requires additional public comment and a final Commission vote on the new rules.

Written comments can be docketed in RU-00000A-18-0284 from July 9 through August 20, with public comment held on August 16 and 19.