Ariz. utility spends big to stop renewable mandate

Source: By Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic • Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Officials with the utility, Arizona Public Service Co., say the initiative would restrict flexibility and precipitate the shuttering of coal and nuclear plants by 2025.

“By design in the ballot initiative, those renewables are must-take,” said Jeff Burke, resource planning director at APS. “They have to stay on. What that does is it pushes net demand downward. When that gets pushed downward, eventually you have too much energy on the system.”

APS’s parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp., has sunk over $5 million into three political action committees, including one that focuses on the ballot initiative and another on electing candidates — including, potentially, for a seat on the state’s utility regulatory body.

The initiative is being pushed by a group funded by $957,000 of California billionaire Tom Steyer’s money. It won a wide margin of public support in surveys performed by the group Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona. Opponents have declined to share the results of their own in-house polls.

Steyer’s role has been a target for opponents, while APS lobbyists were also instrumental recently in getting a law passed that nullified penalties for noncompliance with the standard.

“APS will say or do anything to protect their $488 million in dirty energy profits,” said Rodd McLeod, spokesman for Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona. “They know Palo Verde [Nuclear Generating Station] employs a lot of people, so they are cynically threatening these workers’ livelihoods if they don’t get their way because they have no good argument against clean, renewable energy.”