Raising Arizona Renewables

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Baby, its hot down here

The State of Arizona has set up subsidies for household solar and wind installations as part of a big package announced this week.(12th August 2005)

“We should be to solar as Texas is to oil,” said Arizona Energy Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes as he argued for development of Arizona’s solar resources.

Shop for Solar Energy products at Gaiam.com! The Commission on Wednesday endorsed a 15 percent renewable resources target for 2025 as part of proposed changes to the state’s “environmental portfolio.” Arizona currently requires that 1 percent of energy consumed in Arizona be generated by renewable resources.

Western states are continuing to push utility companies to invest in renewable energy resources, as Arizona this week followed California, New Mexico and Texas in endorsing stricter renewable portfolio standards for electric power generators in the state.

Meanwhile, California, which earlier had accelerated its requirement for regulated utilities to 20 percent by 2010, is now considering a 33 percent mandate by 2020, according to California Public Utility Commission member Dian Grueneich.

Under Arizona’s proposed new policy, the renewables percentage requirement will increase slightly each year until the full 15 percent mandate is reached in two decades. Some parties to the rulemaking hoped for as much as a 20 percent standard (Greenwire, May 5).

Commissioners also directed staff to make other changes, including removal of a solar set-aside provision and an associated requirement for in-state renewables purchases. Under the current rule, up to 60 percent of the renewable requirement was devoted to solar-powered resources.

A majority of commissioners said they believed a stated preference for solar or in-state resources might make the rules too vulnerable to litigation, and that utilities should have the opportunity to diversify their renewables portfolios with purchases from other states.

“If New Mexico, Arizona and Utah can collaborate on a multi-state project, or if New Mexico has better wind, there shouldn’t be a barrier to utilities buying that power,” said commission spokeswoman Heather Murphy.

The new rules will come at a higher cost to utility customers, making off-the-grid power an ever more attractive option.

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