ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION — In a sweeping call for energy policy reform in Arizona, Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin presented a plan today to help Arizona lead the nation in clean energy usage, energy storage, forest health, and innovation. Most notably, the plan calls for 80 percent of Arizona’s electricity generation to come from clean energy by 2050 along with the goal of having 3,000-megawatts of energy storage deployed by 2030.
“This plan establishes Arizona as a nationwide leader in clean energy,” said Commissioner Tobin. “Living in a desert like we do, our goal has to be to address peak demand. Reducing usage in these peak windows will save Arizonans millions of dollars, but we also think we can do it in a way that is clean and maintains grid reliability.”
Arizona’s Energy Modernization Plan sets a path to clean energy by reviewing Arizona’s current energy policies including the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). Tobin credits the state’s REST for making Arizona a national leader in the adoption of renewable energy but says it’s time for an update.
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“It’s been over a decade since the Corporation Commission passed the REST and the energy landscape in Arizona and across the country is drastically different today,” said Commissioner Tobin. “It’s no longer enough to just install solar panels as quickly as possible. We need to pair these resources with new technology to maximize their effectiveness and maintain stability.” The plan calls for a new “Clean Peak” focus in the REST to encourage dispatchable clean energy with energy storage.
Expanding energy storage gives Arizona the opportunity to capture low priced energy during non-peak hours and reinject that energy back into the grid during on-peak rate periods. The 3,000-megawatt target laid out in this policy is, by far, the largest such goal in the United States made possible by storage markets which have recently seen drastic improvements in technology along with falling costs.
“Utilities in Arizona are already partnering with leading companies to deploy proven new technologies in energy storage,” said John Zahurancik, chief operating officer of Fluence, a Siemens and AES company. “This policy provides strong support to take Arizona further in that direction, ensuring the state will realize the economic benefits of clean, low-cost power and get the most from its power infrastructure.”
The Corporation Commission has worked hard over the past few years evaluating whether energy policies need updating. “We’ve held multiple workshops to hear from a variety of stakeholders on a host of issues whose comments have helped to formulate this plan,” says Tobin. “Our state needs a forward looking, comprehensive energy strategy that can direct decision making at the Commission and Utility level and I believe this policy proposal will accomplish this goal.”
Other stakeholders agree with this assessment. The Director for the Arizona Regulated Utility Consumer Office (RUCO), Dave Tenney, recently testified before the Commission saying, “Through no fault of this current Commission, the energy programs implemented here in Arizona, in some instances contradict and even compete with each other. This lack of coordination has at times paralyzed implementing even the smallest energy goals.”
With this policy, the Corporation Commission would also act to promote healthy forests through expanded biomass electricity generation. Specifically, regulated utilities will be jointly charged with procuring 60 megawatts of their electricity from biomass generators as a means of cleaning up nearly a million acres of the state’s overgrown forests and increasing use of renewable energy over the next 20 years. Since 2002, Arizona has seen over 5.2 million acres burned, 29 lives lost, and over $162 million spent on wildfires in the state.
“The work we have been able to do with Commissioner Boyd Dunn to highlight the urgent need for action on our forests and the role that utilities can play in making a difference has been outstanding,” commented Commissioner Tobin. “No comprehensive energy plan in this state would be complete without addressing this issue.”
The plan, found at http://azcc.gov/energyplan, establishes several guiding principles for energy modernization including resiliency, affordability and reliability, innovation, and resource diversity. It also makes additional policy proposals in the areas of energy efficiency, resource planning, peak demand reduction, and electric vehicle infrastructure.
Commissioner Tobin is hoping that the full Commission will be able to discuss and consider the policy at the upcoming Open Meeting on February 6-7, 2018.
View the entire Arizona Energy Modernization Plan on the Corporation Commission’s website http://azcc.gov/energyplan. The document is also saved to the Corporation Commission’s online docket http://edocket.azcc.gov/, search docket number E-000002-16-0289.
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