Proposition 127 and America’s Sunniest State Battling to Support Solar Energy 

Proposition 127 faces aggressive opposition from the state’s largest utility, APS.


Proposition 127 and America’s Sunniest State Battling to Support Solar Energy

Arizona, the brightest state in the country, with the most sun, also has a predicted 30 more hundred-degree days annually throughout the coming decades due to progressing climate change. With costs of technology and battery storage quickly falling, the APS director stated they are now frequently more affordable than fossil fuels and natural gas since 2017. Even with these numbers, Arizona still generates only six per cent of its power from solar, according to supporters of this movement. The state currently requires utilities to generate eight per cent of their power from sources like solar and wind, and requires increasing to fifteen per cent in the next seven years.

Details of Proposition 127

For the past year, Proposition 127, an amendment added to Arizona’s constitution requiring power companies to generate 50% of their electricity from renewable sources over a decade, has faced aggressive opposition from the state’s largest utility, APS. With the vote occurring this year, the battle for further solar energy generation in the sunniest state could progress.

Once Proposition 127 was on the ballot, Arizona’s attorney general had to sign off on its language. While APS had donated $425,000 to the attorney general’s last campaign and a $150,000 to the current effort to get him re-elected, there could be some potential influence as for the veto of Proposition 127 at this point. Perhaps the largest argument placed against Proposition 127 is that it would force the closure of the Palo Verde nuclear plant, largest in the nation. Unlike natural gas systems, which can be quickly ramped up or down depending on customer energy needs, nuclear power generates a standard amount of power at a consistent and unvarying rate.

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (RPS)

While RPS are some of the of the most powerful tools that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These reductions are already about one-third and also expected to continue incredibly through 2025. Proposition 127 and other legislation are expected to cut approximately 620 metric tons of carbon emissions throughout the nation. However, Arizona alone has developed the goal to increase solar energy along with roughly 22 million dollars spent on campaigning toward the pass of Proposition 127.

RPS’s do not automatically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions but must be implemented in connection with other emission-reducing policies, such as tax incentives, net metering, and improved transmission corridors. These move renewable energy from where it is generated to where it’s needed. While there are some rate increases, reports from the Natural Resources Defence Council prove possible rate decreases consistent with experts at Arizona State University showing no connection between clean energy and increased utility rates. In fact, the average rate increases have been 2.7% per year, more than other states with stronger renewable energy standards.

Details of the Arizona Public Service (APS)

However, investors, with motivated protection of shareholder profits, own APS, and many of them do not live in Arizona, Additionally, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), who is required to keep the workings of APS up to par, is supposed to set limits on capital investments, prices, and profit margin.

For APS, a $200 million fuel plant would be more beneficial than a $20 million solar farm because the utility can charge higher rates to recoup its investment costs. Proposition 127 is greatly based on the 2017 data where the APS called for more than five thousand megawatts of natural gas additions and almost no renewable-based utilities. One APS central claim, based on an economic analysis it funded and using data it provided, is that Proposition 127 would cause Arizona’s annual utility bills to increase by an average of roughly $1000 annually per household. However, if this were the true question on the matter, then APS, whose chief concern is shareholder value, would be all for it.

APS has stated that utility-scale solar power, especially when the sun is shining, on top of the current flow of nuclear power, would create an oversupply of energy. It could become too expensive to continue to run the nuclear plant. To meet periods of high demand, like summer evenings, APS would have to build more natural gas, quick start plants. Since that’s half of the clean energy that APS generates, Proposition 127, would force the plant to close, raising the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions. The former ACC commissioner disagreed. APS owns only a quarter of local utilities while six other entities co-own the rest. Energy would still be distributed at a workable cost across the Southwest. Then exists the idea that a greater reliance on renewable energy would put the nuclear plant out of business.



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