PHOENIX – More than $40 million has been spent to fight for and against a ballot initiative that would change the future of Arizona’s energy mix. Proposition 127 has also been the subject of an Arizona Supreme Court lawsuit and a battle over claims that language from the Attorney General’s Office undermined the initiative.
If approved by voters Nov. 6, it would mandate the state’s regulated utility companies to get more of their energy from solar, wind and other renewable sources.
Supporters say it’s time to take advantage of one of the state’s most abundant resources: sunshine. Opponents say new energy mandates will result in higher costs for ratepayers.
In an interview with Fox News, Dr. Paul Bracken, a Yale University political science and management professor, said the state could be a testing ground for how other states deal with renewable energy standards.
“People who would like more sustainable energies are using the threat of a ballot initiative to put pressure on the state institutions of government and on the power companies themselves to change,” Bracken said. “I think one of the arguments in Arizona, is that for a state with its position in sustainable resources like solar it’s gone very, very slow in terms of particular solar but also wind—it hasn’t done as much as it should – so it could really influence Arizona Public Service and others to move in this direction.”
What the two sides say
Prop 127 would mandate that Arizona utility companies get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030. The Arizona Corporation Commission sets the current standard at 15 percent by 2025; if the initiative passes, the mandate will be included in the state Constitution.
Arizona ranks second behind Nevada in solar energy potential. Yet in 2016, solar accounted for about 5 percent of the state’s net electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Wind energy supplied less than 1 percent.