by Will Greene
Despite repeated assurances during the 2012 political campaign that Republicans at the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) would not roll back Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard (REST), it appeared likely they would do just that only three months after taking their oath of office.
Arizona’s REST sets the minimum percentage of electricity that our state’s investor owned utilities must produce from renewable energy by a certain date (15% by 2025). It is the primary policy mechanism driving the emergence of a solar industry in Arizona. Thanks to this policy commitment, thousands of Arizona’s citizens are employed in an exciting industry, our air is cleaner, our grid is more resilient, we are importing less fuel from out-of-state, and Arizona’s contribution to global climate change has decreased.
In January Commissioner Gary Pierce introduced a surprise amendment to bring the REST down to 13.5%, despite the change equating to pennies worth of savings for average ratepayers. This would have amounted to a 11% decrease in Arizona’s future renewable energy capacity.
A certain blogger also nudged folks to get engaged (read: A Call to Action – Solar in Arizona (and Therefore our Environment) Needs YOU).
On Tuesday we learned that Commissioner Pierce had withdrawn his amendment during ACC staff meeting, reportedly due to the amount of “talk out there about it." Hopefully this is an indication that Commissioner Pierce's REST-slashing strategy isolated him among his colleagues who may see value in incubating a solar economy in our state, or who at least don't want to damage progress already made.
Score a victory for an engaged citizenry still striving for a prosperous solar future in Arizona.