by Will Greene
In one of the more shocking moments at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in recent memory, Commissioner Gary Pierce introduced an amendment one-week ago-Wednesday that would effectively bring Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard (REST) under 13.5% (it is currently set at 15% renewables by 2025).
The amendment, referred to by one solar official as the most significant policy setback for Arizona’s solar industry in years if passed, was released to the public only one hour before Pierce introduced it for consideration. Before a vote could occur, ACC legal council warned the amendment was legally questionable, and it was tabled until a procedural conference on February 14th with a hearing to follow.
Wednesday, business, faith community, and environmental leaders rallied in front of the ACC in opposition to Pierce’s amendment as well as the solar incentive cuts.
“We are deeply concerned by numerous actions by the Corporation Commission, including Commissioner Pierce’s proposal to reduce the Renewable Energy Standard by granting exemptions to electricity sales to large retail customers.” Jennifer Martin of Arizona Interfaith Power and Light (AZIPL), said at the event. AZIPL is a citizen coalition of faith communities organizing to protect creation.
Solar company owner Sean Monaghan stated that the ACC has taken its “worst actions yet” and Randy Dunton of Hawkins Design Group explained that by changing the game, the ACC is killing deals his company had in progress.
Pierce's amendment aims to reduce costs for customers. The average residential ratepayer contributes 2% of their bill to renewable energy, while the cost of importing fuels for fossil generation accounts for 30% of the average ratepayer's bill.