Chamber Business News

Steyer vs. Arizona

In less than two months, Arizona voters will decide the fate of Proposition 127, an effort led by California billionaire Tom Steyer to mandate new renewable energy standards. The opposition to Proposition 127 is unprecedented, with a diverse coalition that covers every corner of the state.

On one side is Tom Steyer, who appears to be building his name I.D. in preparation for a possible presidential run in 2020, and who has captured the attention of left-leaning activists with his call for the impeachment of President Trump.

Steyer is essentially a coalition of one, bankrolling via his NextGen Climate Action Super PAC more than $8.2 million so far to qualify Proposition 127 for the ballot and fund its campaign.

On the other side is an expansive coalition of organizations, associations and community leaders who rarely share the same position on issues.

From the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union to the Douglas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to the Navajo Nation, the coalition of more than 60 organizations represents varying industries, interests and individuals that now share the common goal of defeating Steyer and his initiative in November.

“Southern Arizona is already making strides in clean energy,” Carlos Ruiz, Business Advocacy Chair for the Tucson Hispanic Chamber and owner of HT Metals said. “Our local Tucson Electric Power has nearly doubled what is required under the current Arizona Renewable Energy Standard and plans to add another 800 MW of renewable capacity by 2030. This is the smart way to manage energy, with local officials balancing the needs of local families, employers and the environment. Prop 127 is a reckless plan that will immediately raise utility rates in in our community – hurting small businesses and vulnerable families least able to shoulder these kinds of price shocks.”

Recently, the Association of the U.S. Navy joined the No on 127 coalition due to the proposition’s increased costs on Arizona veterans.

“Nearly 600,000 veterans reside in Arizona, and many are retired and living on a fixed income,” said Jon C. Altmann, National Vice President & Arizona Legislative Liaison for the Association of the U.S. Navy. “Any sudden, significant increase in their cost of living is not easily offset. A doubling of utility bills, as is forecast under Proposition 127, puts these veterans and their families in financial peril.”

Proposition 127 mimics California law by requiring public utilities to obtain at least half of their power from renewable sources by 2030. Since the mandate became law in 2015, California electricity rates have increased at a rate 3 times faster than the national average.

This looming cost increase has also concerned many within the agricultural community.

“If approved, this measure will drastically drive up the price of power in Arizona – hurting farmers and families in every corner of the state, and threatening the viability of an already vulnerable market,” Arizona Cotton Growers Association President Art Heiden said in a statement.  “We don’t have the ability to charge more for our product to compensate for rising energy costs. Adopting California-style energy policy that will increase utility rates by over 100 percent is a financial burden our industry cannot afford. Like most of the business and trade associations who have opposed this measure, we support a responsible transition toward more renewable energy. But this approach is unrealistic, unwise and bad for business.”

Lorna Romero

1 comment

  • I am a retired utility engineer who participated in decisions on energy sources for many years. Setting an arbitrary goal for renewable energy would be a disaster. Each energy decision must be based on many factors including renewability. To ignore all of the other factors in the decision making would be a costly disaster and would affect the reliability of service. Renewable energy is the focus of a vast body of research, and these technological advances must be allowed to mature before adoption, not subject to a political schedule.

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