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Arizona regulators adopt 2050 100% carbon-free rule for state’s electric utilities

October 30, 2020

Arizona Republic:

Arizona utility regulators on Thursday, in a split vote, approved a plan for utilities to get all of their energy from carbon-free sources like solar and nuclear energy by 2050, bringing the state closer in line to other Western states.

The new regulations require electric utilities to get half their power from renewable energy like solar and wind in 2035. Then in 2050, they would need to supply all customer demand for electricity with either renewables, carbon-free nuclear, or energy-efficiency measures such as subsidizing low-watt lightbulbs or attic insulation for customers.

The new requirements will spur development of solar plants, battery storage and other renewables, though commissioners debated whether the rules would affect customers’ bills. Because the rules require additional energy-efficiency measures, they are likely to include opportunities for customers to save through utility conservation programs.

Arizona Corporation Commissioners approved the measure, which increases the requirements for the first time in 14 years, on a 3-2 vote. Voting in favor of the new rules were Republican Chairman Robert Burns, Democrat Sandra Kennedy, and Republican Boyd Dunn. Opposed were Republicans Justin Olson and Lea Márquez Peterson.

Electric utilities would have to phase out coal- and natural-gas-burning power plants, and would need to start soon, because the plan has interim requirements that utilities cut carbon emissions in half by 2032 and 75% by 2040. The carbon reductions would be based on how much carbon a utility’s power plants emitted on average in the years 2016-18.

Included in the new rules is a requirement that by 2036, utilities have enough energy storage, likely in the form of large batteries, to equal 5% of the utility’s 2020 peak demand, and a portion of that needs to be owned by customers, not the utility.

[Ryan Randazzo]

More: Arizona power must come from 100% carbon-free sources by 2050, regulators decide

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