Arizona Voters Reject California Billionaire’s Renewable Energy Mandate Increase

Published January 3, 2019

Arizona voters rejected Proposition 127, a ballot initiative which would have required utilities to use renewable sources to produce at least 50 percent of the electricity in the state by 2030,  “irrespective of the cost to customers,” as the initiative stated it.

The initiative was rejected by an overwhelming 69 percent of voters. The proposal would have more than tripled Arizona’s current renewable energy mandate of 15 percent by 2025.

Defeat for Billionaire Steyer

California hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, the founder of NextGen Energy, provided the lion’s share of the funding for the ballot initiative.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, the group formed to sponsor Proposition 127, raised $23.65 million to support the renewable mandate increase, 95 percent of which came from NextGen Climate Action.

Proposition 127 was seen as a boon to solar and wind energy producers because the measure barred utilities from counting nuclear power and most hydropower toward the mandate. The defeat of Proposition 127 means a new lease on life for the 3.9 gigawatt Palo Verde nuclear power plant. Arizona Public Service (APS), the state’s largest utility, had said it would probably shutter the Palo Verde power plant early if voters approved the initiative.

“As the nation’s largest producer of emissions-free energy, Palo Verde is the anchor of Arizona’s clean-energy future,” APS President Don Brandt said in a statement on Election Day.

‘Turbid Motives’

The fact neither hydropower nor nuclear power was considered a clean energy source under Proposition 127 shows the initiative was not really about preventing carbon dioxide emissions, says Jordan McGillis, a policy analyst with the Institute for Energy Research and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.

“What was most striking about this proposition was the exclusion of nuclear power and hydropower from the range of electricity sources counting toward the 50 percent mandate,” said McGillis. “That exclusion reveals turbid motives, because if a state is going to saddle itself with a restrictive mandate to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions it should at least use the most reliable non-emitting sources available, which include nuclear and hydropower.”

Craig Rucker, president of Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), says the defeat of Proposition 127 is a victory for average Arizonans.

“By rejecting the ballot initiative by over a two-to-one margin, Arizonans have dealt a blow to out-of-state elites, such as Tom Steyer, who hoped to transform their state into the next California,” Rucker said. “By the tens of thousands, Californians have fled the Golden State because they can no longer afford to live there.

“Proposition 127’s defeat shows, when it comes to affordable energy, Arizonans don’t see California as a role model,” said Rucker.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research and a senior policy analyst with CFACT.