Tucson Electric Power (TEP) recently announced its opposition to Proposition 127, a November ballot initiative that requires 50 percent of all public utility energy to come from renewable resources by 2030. UNS Energy Inc., the parent company of TEP, formed Southern Arizonans for Responsible Energy, a political action committee dedicated to combating the energy mandate.
California billionaire Tom Steyer has led the initiative and has poured over $8.2 million into its campaign. The proposition is not pragmatic in a state like Arizona, which has one of the biggest nuclear power plants in the nation. Because nuclear energy is not considered renewable according to the Steyer initiative – despite the fact that it generates no carbon emissions – the Palo Verde Generating Station will likely close indefinitely.
Morgan Abrahams, the chair of Southern Arizonans for Responsible Energy, notes that this also affects small-businesses. He highlights that Tucson is a “big small-business community,” and when these businesses’ electricity rates rise, many of them face the danger of closing. Moreover, tandem rate hikes in business-owners’ office spaces and homes could prove poisonous to many Arizonans’ professional and personal lives.
Moreover, Abrahams explains that rent-payers will face the biggest burden if this proposition passes. “It’s an unreasonable piece of policy that unfairly impacts lower-income populations,” Abrahams explains. “It has unintended consequences of 50 to 100 percent increases in electricity bills in Tucson and Phoenix. How do you tell people that are living paycheck to paycheck that their electricity bill is going up 50 percent?”
Abrahams says that TEP plans on funding campaigns efforts to combat the proposition. “We’re really focusing on Pima County – our main focus is what we know, and that’s the voters of Pima County. With that in mind, we have a lot of community profits and nonprofits on board — we’re raising a lot of money to let our message spread.”
Finally, Abrahams emphasized that Southern Arizonans for Responsible Energy supports solar and is “all for renewables,” noting that it is an important long-term goal for the state. However, Prop. 127 is not the right way to achieve this goal – because of its significant impact on residents and businesses, it will create more harm than benefits in the state.
TEP is the latest organization to join the fight against Proposition 127.