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Arizona utility regulators Thursday, in a split vote, approved plans for utilities that use all energy from non-carbon sources such as solar and energy. nuclear by 2050, bringing the state closer to other Western states.

The new regulations require electricity companies to use half of the energy from renewables like solar and wind by 2035. Then by 2050, they will need to supply all of their electricity needs. customers using renewable energy, non-carbon nuclear or energy-saving measures such as subsidizing low-power bulbs or roof insulation for customers.

The new requirements will spur the development of solar power plants, battery storage and other renewable energies, although the commissioners have been debating whether the rules affect the bill. of customers or not. Because the rules require additional energy-saving measures, they potentially include opportunities for customers to save through utility conservation programs.

The Trustees of the Arizona Corporation approved this measure, increasing requests for the first time in 14 years, at a rate of 3-2. Voting in favor of the new rules were Republican Chairman Robert Burns, Democrat Sandra Kennedy and Republican Boyd Dunn. The protesters were Republicans Justin Olson and Lea Márquez Peterson.

Power companies will have to phase out coal-fired and natural gas plants gradually, and start operations soon, as the plan has temporary requirements that power companies must cut in half. carbon emissions by 2032 and 75% by 2040.

The carbon cut will be based on the average of a power company’s power plants emitted in 2016-18.

The new rules update the Renewable Energy Tariff and Standards adopted by a Republican party committee in 2006 and require utility companies to use 15% of their electricity from renewable energy by year. 2025, as well as 2010 energy efficiency requirements for them to use efficiency measures to meet 22% of their energy needs this year.

Arizona’s largest utility customers pay about $ 3.50 a month today to fund the utility’s compliance with those rules.

‘We have done something … important for the state’s future’

“The climate crisis is affecting the people of Arizona right now. I am delighted that the committee has finally been able to look at partisan politics in the past to support science and economics-based policy that could all be possible with stakeholders, utility companies and bidders. agree and benefit from it, “Kennedy said in a statement prepared after the vote.

Dunn agrees. “We’ve done something that is definitely important for the state’s future,” he said as the meeting ended.

Also passed on Thursday was an update to requirements for how utilities plan and build new power plants or execute power purchase agreements from others, with trustees. Agree on proposals that advocates like the clean energy campaign Western Grid Group and Sierra Club say will make utility resource plans more transparent and competitive.

The Trustees approved changes as modifications to a large set of rules they have been reviewing since July and have been under review for four years.

While they already have the votes to pass the new requirements, they’ll need to re-convene at some point and vote for the full rule, as they didn’t get to that Thursday.

They have made so many changes to the proposed rules that they ask the committee staff to take the time to put the changes on paper so that they can be reviewed before the final vote. .

“We’re afraid we’re going to lose something through cracks here with all the changes we’ve made,” Burns said.

Arizona’s requirements kept pace with the moment they were passed, but California, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington all have more ambitious renewable or carbon-free targets than today, approved by their legislators or voters.

The new requirements will make Arizona’s regeneration rules stricter than those of Montana, Oregon, and Washington, even though Washington’s carbon-free goal is to do this by 2045, five years earlier than Arizona.

In early October, the trustees approved an increase in state energy efficiency requirements for utilities. Under the new rules, utilities must implement enough energy-saving measures by 2030 to equal 35% of their 2020 peak demand. The new rule also includes temporary requirements to make sure gadgets work in that direction every year.

But the commissioners were unable to detail many of the other ideas in the energy rules at that October 14 meeting, so they paused until Thursday, where they approved more changes to with requirements.

Márquez Peterson opposes the demand for renewables, preferring instead to focus solely on carbon emissions, not directing companies to use renewable energy to achieve that goal.

The Trustees contested against Proposition 127 which failed in 2018

Olson, meanwhile, opposes any new duties.

“To be honest, I am quite disappointed when we sit here today as a committee applying standards that are very similar to those rejected by voters two years ago in Proposition 127,” He said, citing billionaire Tom Steyer’s favored renewable energy voting that failed in Arizona.

Olson proposed a rule that utilities should not spend more than $ 1 million annually on new requirements, which Márquez Peterson upheld but failed with the other three commissioners opposed.

Dunn defended the rules, saying they were not the same voting measure he said would limit utility companies in the way they plan future electricity demand.

Burns also defended the rules, saying that companies looking to expand or move to Arizona increasingly want to know the state has renewable energy requirements.

When the committee settled the issue in July, On Semiconductor of Phoenix, the Arizona Technology Council (which has 750 members in the state), aluminum maker Ball Corp. and nine other large companies had a common consensus on increased renewable requirements.

They cite research from the nonprofit Ceres sustainability which points out that Arizona utility customers saved $ 2 billion between 2008 and 2018 thanks to current renewable energy rules. , has promoted many solar and wind projects in the state.

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New requirements for electricity storage

Included in the new rules is the requirement that by 2036, gadgets must have sufficient storage power, capable of being in the form of large batteries, equal to 5% of the 2020 peak utility demand and a fraction of the it needs to be owned by the customer, not the gadgets.

This requirement is similar to a rule in the initial renewable requirements that part of the renewable energy supplied to utilities comes from “distributed” resources rather than from centralized power plants. . Nearly all generations of “distribution” are rooftop solar energy on homes and businesses.

Bret Fanshaw, program director of Solar United Neighbors Arizona, said in a post-vote statement: “Battery storage could open up a lot of additional uses for rooftop solar energy.

“Households will be able to save money and reduce the cost of their electrical systems by storing solar energy during the day and using it at sunset. At this standard, we are delighted for all. even the benefits of solar energy storage give holdings in Arizona. “

The estimated requirement will bring 200 megawatts of battery capacity to customers in the territories of Arizona Public Service Company and Tucson Electric Company by 2035, according to battery and energy trading groups and companies. the sun has pushed up regulations.

The new rules, if passed in a subsequent vote, will promote utilities that offer incentives and fees to help customers buy batteries for their properties and receive credit for any convenience. Which stored energy utility is used.

The rules will also require an administrative-law judge hearing process to ensure they are consistent before they go into effect. That will probably take a few months.

Approach reporter Ryan Randazzo at Ryan.randazzo@ aizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4331. Follow him on Twitter @UtilityReporter.

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