There’s a bumper sticker of recent vintage that says “Don’t California My Arizona!”. With a new ballot proposition, however, that is exactly what is being sought.
Prop 127, and others like it, is a clean energy initiative that has been sought and enacted in numerous mostly blue states over the past decade. It seeks to impose a renewable energy mandate on the state to reach a goal for having some percentage of our electricity come from renewable sources by a particular date in time. In Arizona’s case, it would be 50% by 2030.
This idea is not new, and has been used in several states like California, Hawaii, Maine, and Maryland, amongst several others. Even Arizona has one, but it is now considered fairly minimal in scope compared to many blue states at 15% of generating capacity by 2025. This pales in comparison to what Hawaii is demanding already (100% in 2045) and what California has and will likely continue to raise (currently 50% by 2030).
These mandates come with costs to ratepayers, however. Due to the technologies being relatively new, and in some cases fairly experimental, the costs have been quite high in most states and also some countries.
An example of this in action was the ill-fated attempt to do geothermal in Switzerland. This went so poorly that there were EARTHQUAKES caused by the extraction method there, and showed it could only be safely done in already tectonically active areas of the world like Iceland or parts of the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Another example of cost comes from the boondoggle nature of many wind energy programs in different states. Oklahoma, for example, not only had a generous tax credit program which allowed their wind industry to pay next to no taxes on primary output costs, it went further and SUBSIDIZED the industry to the tune of a half a billion dollars over this next decade. This was a point of contention during the teacher pay strike there this Spring, and due to lobbyist pressure was, to my mind, sadly preserved.
Solar is probably the most prominent renewable source, though, in AZ and the American Southwest overall. The state already has a decently-sized solar industry at this point in time. I will point out that there has been some gains in efficiency in solar tech in recent years, and myriad articles online can attest to it. It has not been enough, however, to allow for mass installation even in a place like Arizona without exorbitant increases in the price ratepayers will pay should Prop 127 pass.
Currently, Arizonans on average pay a bit over $1000 per year in electricity costs. Comparatively, it is about $2000 a year in California, whose standards would be adopted in Prop 127. In all states that have adopted aggressive standards, they have seen significant rate hikes to pay for these renewables and California was certainly no exception.
Given all of the information above, it is best for Arizona to reject Prop 127 and avoid the costs associated with a giveaway to special interests in the renewable industry. The state doesn’t need to jettison an approach that has worked to provide affordable electricity for many years, and will only threaten jobs at existing power stations throughout the state. This warning also goes out to Nevada, where I urge a no vote on Question 6 on November 6th. The question there will set the same renewable standard as Arizona, and will yield a similar outcome if enacted.