- With just two months until election day, the parent company of Tucson Electric Power (TEP) has registered a political action committee (PAC) in order to oppose a ballot initiative that would require Arizona to adopt a 50% renewable energy standard.
- Arizona Public Service (APS) has already spent millions to oppose the measure through a PAC of its own, Arizonans for Affordable Energy (AAE). The utility maintains the 50% renewables mandate would lead to sharply higher electricity bills and could force the shutdown of its Palo Verde nuclear plant.
- TEP parent UNS Energy registered Southern Arizonans for Responsible Energy with the state, and is planning to register another called Responsible Energy for Mohave County to lobby in that specific area, the Arizona Daily Star reported Sunday.
Up to this point, APS has led the fight against Proposition 127, largely through AEE, but TEP decided to join the fray after previous attempts to keep the question off the ballot failed.
According to TEP, if Proposition 127 passes the average residential customer would see bills rise by $500 annually while businesses would see a more than $3,000 annual increase.
UNS President and CEO David Hutchens told the Star that the utility's efforts are focused on educating customers about the impacts of a rapid shift towards 50% renewable energy. "We want to make sure our customers understand the impact of things they vote for, then if they still want it, we'll do it," he said.
The ballot initiative is being funded by California activist billionaire Tom Steyer and, despite submitting more than double the required signatures, supporters have had to fight to ensure Proposition 127 is in front of voters in November.
Steyer's group Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona (CEHA) submitted 480,000 signatures in support of the initiative. AAE had challenged the validity of the signatures — and many were found to be invalid — before the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Supreme Court ultimately ruled the initiative could go on the ballot.
Following the state Supreme Court's decision, Steyer's group said APS had "wasted over $11 million of their customers' money trying to prevent a ballot initiative that will lower energy costs."
CEHA has reportedly spent about $4.5 million on the fight, but these figures are small compared to the potential impact of a 50% renewable standard on Arizona's economy — though the two sides would disagree on what that impact would look like.
AEE says the ballot measure would force the closure of Palo Verde, eliminate thousands of jobs and cost Arizona more than $72 billion worth of economic activity.
According to CEHA, Palo Verde will remain open if Proposition 127 passes, and the push to install large amounts of solar capacity will create jobs in the state.