PHOENIX (AP) - Republicans in the Arizona House have voted to strip the state’s elected utility regulators of their power to require utilities to get more of their electricity from solar and other clean energy sources.
Rep. Gail Griffin of Hereford amended her bill to adopt the state’s current standards requiring 15% of power to come from renewable sources before Wednesday’s 31-28 party-line vote. Democrats were unified in opposition.
But it retains the ban on the Arizona Corporation Commission adopting new proposed standards that would require most of the state’s utilities to get half their power from solar, wind and other renewable sources by 2035 and 100% from clean energy, including nuclear, by 2050.
The Senate has a similar measure, meaning the ban is being fast-tracked and could quickly reach Republican Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.
GOP lawmakers have been emboldened by a recent state Supreme Court decision that called the commission’s powers into question. Ducey himself has been critical of the commission’s adoption of renewable energy standards, and is backing the effort to block the commission’s power.
"I want to see the Corporation Commission setting rates. And I want to see the state Legislature setting energy policy," Ducey said at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event on Jan. 8. "And I hope we can straighten that out this legislative session."
The plan to strip the commission’s power is opposed by environmental groups and some business interests. It received backing from small-government groups such as the Goldwater Institute and the Free Enterpise Club.
Large utilities such as Arizona Public Service, which spent millions to block a 2018 voter initiative requiring more renewable energy but supported the commission’s proposal, have not taken a position on the bill. APS announced last year that it would get all its power from carbon-free sources by 2050.
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