With the colorful leaves of fall throughout our landscape, this time of year is even more beautiful in the High Country. Along with the leaves, we are seeing lots of campaign signs dotting our street corners. Among them are bright yellow signs for No on Prop. 127, also known as Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona. Despite its appealing name, this initiative would have devastating effects on our businesses, schools and cost of living; sadly, with no real gains for public health.
Oppose Prop. 127 in Favor of a Responsible, Cleaner Future
We all want and support cleaner energy. At APS, we are on that path from our current 50 percent clean-energy mix. We advocate strongly for designing a cleaner energy future through collaboration, public dialogue and use of innovative technologies like battery storage as they become affordable and practical on large scales. We also stand for responsible planning principles when it comes to designing Arizona’s energy future, and that means achieving cleaner energy while preserving affordability and reliability.
Prop. 127 is irresponsible because it prescribes that only some companies in our state meet renewable-energy mandates “irrespective of costs to consumers” (exact language on the ballot). It dictates the types of energy sources considered clean, favoring some over others despite real impact on carbon intensity and emissions. And all of this would be enshrined in our state Constitution to require APS and other public utilities to source 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030.
Customers Lose with Higher Electricity Bills
Passing Prop. 127 means Arizonans will pay a lot more for electricity. Independent consumer advocates estimate $630 more per year for the average customer. Our experts’ estimates are even higher. Limited-income customers, those living on fixed incomes and small businesses will be hit hardest. In our Flagstaff community, adding more to the cost of living and the cost of doing business should concern all of us.
The reason bills would skyrocket is that Prop. 127 forces regulated utilities like APS to spend billions of dollars on new renewable energy sources and costly new infrastructure on a specific pace and scale – regardless of what customers need or the existing clean sources we already have available like Palo Verde Generating Station.
Arizona Loses Country’s Largest Clean-Air Producer
As you may have read in this column last month, Palo Verde is an Arizona success story and the country’s largest source of carbon-free electricity. Some of today’s most passionate advocates for nuclear energy are environmentalists who recognize its critical role in lowering carbon emissions. Yet, inexplicably, Prop. 127 excludes nuclear energy as a clean generation source, risking the viability of Palo Verde. When that proved unpopular with voters, the proposition’s campaign quickly claimed Palo Verde will be just fine under their plan. The laws of physics and economics say otherwise.
For much of the year, Prop 127 would force more solar energy onto Arizona’s electricity grid than customers need. Other power sources like Palo Verde would have to be curtailed. The problem is, nuclear power plants are designed to be operated at full capacity year-round. They can’t be turned off and on at will, and maintaining Palo Verde only to run it part-time is not economically viable.
Schools Lose Funding
Besides losing all the clean-air benefits of Palo Verde, in APS service territory alone, K-12 schools and community colleges will face a total loss of more than $670 million by 2030 if Prop 127 passes. Between 2019 and 2030, these schools will lose $122 million in property tax revenue from power plants APS would be forced to close, while their electricity bills would increase more than $500 million.
No Real Public Health Gains
And, after all the unnecessary investments, the high bills and the lost jobs, the sad fact is that Prop. 127 will do little to address air pollution – nearly all of which comes from automobile emissions and blowing dust. This proposition is silent on electric vehicles or any kind of transportation targets that could make a real difference in air quality.
Like most Arizonans, I want our state to continue moving toward a cleaner energy future. But let’s work together to get there responsibly – without sacrificing affordability or doing long-term harm to our state.
I ask you to join me in voting No on Prop. 127. FBN
By Janet Dean
Janet Dean is the community affairs manager for APS.