RR Republican Club Learns About Electric Supplies and Rates

Conrad Tolson

Special guests for May were Rachel Walden and Lea Marquez Peterson, candidates for the Arizona Corporation Commission (AZCC). They are running on a slate of three Republicans (along with Rene Lopez) for the three open seats on the five-member commission.

AZCC’s duties include assuring safe, reliable, and affordable utility services, including electricity from fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear. AZCC also regulates water utilities, railroads and pipeline safety, as well as securities. Their Democrat opponents would like to eliminate the fossil fuel option and go to all “green/renewable” sources, which have not proven reliable in California and Texas. Renewable energy depends on the sun and wind, which are not reliable nor available 24/7. Furthermore, peak electrical demand in Arizona is typically at 6 p.m. when wind and solar power are waning. Battery storage technology is not ready for prime time, thus gas-fired “peaking” plants are necessary to pick up the load as “renewable” sources fade. The Republican candidates support allowing multiple energy sources to get competitive prices.

The AZCC mandated in 2006 that 15% of our energy come from renewables. This mandate has been closing fossil plants and driving up energy prices (estimated cost to consumers has been over $2 million thus far). The 15% mandate was rescinded by the last AZCC, however, most Arizona utilities are still moving ahead with it and trying to pass the costs on to ratepayers. For example, APS has budgeted $5 million for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and wants to pass that cost on to residential ratepayers. If the Republican slate is elected, they will take steps to “unwind” the 2006 mandate and stop utilities from passing EV costs on to ratepayers.

The direction taken by the AZCC will determine the future of energy sources and costs in the state. The Democrats are aware of this and raised all the required “clean” cash for their nominees in 72 hours. According to Ballotpedia, only one Democrat appears to be using the “clean campaign” fund-raising route, and all are outraising the Republicans at this time.

A lot of big electric loads are coming to Arizona: Taiwan Semiconductor, Meta, and others. Many businesses would like to come to AZ, but they want assurances that adequate power will be available. With all the new load coming to our state, one of our biggest issues is capacity, and if Republicans can’t hold the majority in the ACC, Democrats will bring green mandates back, limiting capacity.

Micro nuclear is under development but it currently costs about $90/Megawatt-hr. vs about $20 for coal. It is hard to develop new nuclear because of investor hesitancy. Businesses that want to come to our state need more energy than we can currently generate, and the AZCC is also looking at getting third party generation to help meet the loads that we can see coming.

If you haven’t yet donated to candidates’ “clean campaigns,” go to the clean campaign website (e-Qual): at azsos.gov/equal to sign nominating petitions for the Republican candidates and donate $5 each.

The RR Republican Club meets monthly, usually at 9 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month. If you would like to visit our club to learn more about what’s going on in our community and state, contact Ceil Levatino at [email protected] for meeting times and locations.