Times are changing and it’s clear that the U.S needs to take leadership on energy and natural resources production. In our current environment, leaders must ensure the reliability and affordability of electric energy for Americans, which is dependent on the availability of domestic supply.
At the Arizona Corporation Commission, we regulate the private, investor-owned utilities that manage our state’s electric grid and ensure that our economy is run by safe and reliable power at affordable rates. From this perspective, I understand that having access to more natural resources results in lower prices, which ultimately results in lower rates for ratepayers.
For years, regulators and stakeholders have been focused on our state’s transition to clean energy. However, in order to transition to clean energy affordably, we need to re-open domestic supply chains and allow private industry to start sustainably extracting natural resources again. This includes oil and gas to ensure cheaper gasoline at the pump, natural gas to ensure cheaper utility bills at home and at our power plants, and minerals and metals to ensure cheaper materials for batteries, electric vehicles, and semiconductors.
Of course, the decision to increase domestic energy production highlights the need to construct additional pipelines and transmission lines and streamline the permitting processes across the U.S.
We’ve all read the media stories focused on the West’s increased concern for energy reliability, especially during the hot summer months. We’ve seen rolling blackouts in California as a result of poor planning and a call for reduced energy usage by families due to lack of adequate supply.
The answer to these potential energy shortages is an “all resource”, “all technology” approach that ensures reliability and affordability while supporting the transition to clean energy. As a Commissioner, I fully support the use of new energy technologies, such as solar, advanced nuclear, and hydrogen, but I also understand that existing resources, such as coal and natural gas, are necessary to maintain reliability. New energy technologies such as carbon capture may allow us to lengthen the life of our existing fossil fuel resources while dramatically reducing carbon emissions, thereby providing a win-win for local jobs and the broader environment. These technologies should be supported to help save good paying jobs and rural communities that will be impacted by the forced closure of coal plants.
Unfortunately, local activists and environmental groups are not supporting a realistic transition to clean energy. They oppose any options that aren’t “renewables,” even if there are alternative methods available that can reduce carbon emissions while providing reliable power simultaneously with the rapid growth of renewables.
Recently, I was appointed to the nuclear subcommittee for the National Association of Regulated Utility Commissioners. This position is important to explore new opportunities in our nuclear industry. Arizona currently operates the largest nuclear power plant in the nation, the Palo Verde Generating Station, and there are potential options for new, small modular reactors in Arizona, which can provide reliable and affordable power as we transition to clean energy.
All of these options will require new sources of domestic supply, from minerals and metals to oil and natural gas. Now is the time for our federal delegation to act.
We’ve seen recent support for the funding of a more realistic transition to clean energy, as evidenced by the Inflation Reduction Act; however, Americans, and Arizonans in particular, do not want to be manipulated in the name of progressive ideals and short-sighted policy. In Arizona, we value sound economic policy and reasonable regulations that give us the opportunity to work hard, put our land to productive use, and provide for our families while we take control of our nation’s energy future.
Let’s re-open our domestic supply chains and start being a leader in the sustainable production of energy and natural resources again.
Lea Marquez Peterson is the chairwoman of the Arizona Corporation Commission