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Protecting Arizona’s Future: The Urgent Need to Preserve Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Goals

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On February 6, the Arizona Corporation Commission made a shocking decision. They are starting to repeal the Renewable Energy Standard & Tariff (REST) and the Energy Efficiency (EE) Goals — bringing into question Arizona’s future of renewable energy and energy efficiency, vital to our state’s economic growth, job creation, and environmental stewardship.

Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) has been instrumental in attracting investments, creating jobs, lowering utility bills, and mitigating climate pollution:

REST Drives Job Creation, Billions in Benefits, and Solar Revolution: The state is home to over 63,000 jobs in clean energy in 2023 alone, has provided nearly $2 billion in benefits for the public from 2006 since its inception – and for the customers of major utilities like Arizona Public Service (APS) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) provides $12 billion. It has also resulted from nearly a decade of explosive clean energy job growth and the generation of 3400 megawatts (MW) of clean solar power and almost 30 MW of wind – meeting renewables targets in conjunction with federal policy.

REST Water Conservation: REST has also been a critical water conservation triumph in a state increasingly grappling with historic water challenges.

REST has saved 7,129-acre feet of each water year, enough for almost 44,000 Arizonans each year since 2006.  As water scarcity looms, repealing REST could exacerbate the state’s water-related issues.

Public Support for Renewable Energy: Public opinion in Arizona could not be clearer –  70% of voters believe policymakers should intensify efforts to combat climate pollution, and 83% agree that air pollution is a serious public health issue. Renewable energy is synonymous with cleaner air and a healthier future for every Arizonan, particularly today when it is often cheaper than fossil fuels.

Solar Investments and Economic Sense: As one of the sunniest states in the country, Arizona should be a leader in solar investments, not a deterrent. Renewable energy has become the market winner, outperforming traditional fossil fuels like coal and methane gas. Our elected utility regulators should be advancing the growth of renewable energy portfolios.

Continued and accelerated investment in Energy-Efficiency is by far the quickest, cheapest, and cleanest way to meet Arizona’s growing energy needs:

From Investment Dollars to Power Plant Savings: Not only has the Energy Efficiency Standard (EE) more than paid for itself financially (producing nearly $4 in benefits to ratepayers for every $1 invested), it has done what no other resource ever has: stop the year-over-year growth of demand for costly power plant construction, ultimately saving customers tens of billions of dollars.

Industry Growth and Support for Local Businesses and Veterans: The Energy Efficiency Standard has precipitated the growth of Arizona’s more than 400 energy efficiency industry companies, now collectively making up the largest segment of the state’s energy sector. In 2023 alone, the industry employed over 42,000 energy-efficiency workers, with 93.9% of applicable businesses employing fewer than 100 employees. Of these workers, 8% were US military veterans, underscoring the critical role of EE in supporting local businesses and those who served our nation.

Arizona’s path to a sustainable and robust economy depends on preserving and further growing its renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and initiatives. The Arizona Corporation Commission must reconsider its decision to repeal both REST and the EES and instead keep and grow these goals, recognizing the long-term economic benefits each offers our state, and spend our utility regulators’ time and efforts making life’s most essential service more affordable for Arizonans today and into the future.

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Protecting Arizona’s Future: The Urgent Need to Preserve Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Goals

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