Proposition 127, a ballot initiative to require Arizona utilities to generate 50 percent of their electricity through renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by 2030, will appear on the ballot this November after the Arizona Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the signatures gathered for the petition.
Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, an organization funded almost entirely by activist California billionaire Tom Steyer, gathered and submitted 480,000 signatures in support of Prop. 127, well above the state’s 225,000-signature threshold. Arizonans for Affordable Electricity (AAE), a group opposing the ballot initiative, challenged the validity of many of those signatures.
AAE, which formed “No on 127,” a coalition of more than 60 members, including business groups, agricultural interests, local chambers of commerce, labor unions, and think tanks, to fight Prop. 127, expressed disappointment with the court’s decision.
“The outcome of the legal challenge is disappointing, but we always knew it would be an uphill fight to get the initiative’s invalid petitions thrown out,” said Matthew Benson, a spokesman for AAE.
High Costs, Big Losses
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports Arizona’s retail electricity prices, currently 10.33 cents per kilowatt hour, are below the national average of 10.41 cents per kilowatt hour and the 15.23 cents per kilowatt hour in Steyer’s home state of California.
Citing research by the Seidman Research Institute (SRI) at Arizona State University, AAE says if the 50 by 30 initiative is adopted, Arizona will lose $72.5 billion in gross state product between 2018 and 2060, with Arizonans having $42 billion less in disposable personal income over that period. SRI’s analysis also predicts a loss of $5.8 billion in combined state and local taxes through 2060, including $1.7 billion in lost property taxes, causing an $858 million loss in school funding.
“Our focus is to ensure every Arizona family, senior, small-business owner, and ratepayer knows Prop. 127 will increase their electricity bills,” Benson said. “In many Arizona communities, the added cost for a typical household will exceed $1,000 per year.”
‘Sell Out Their State’
Ignoring the state’s Constitution and the costs of these proposed policies, liberals in Arizona are selling out for big bucks from out of state, says James Taylor, a senior fellow with The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News.
“The radical leftist who is bankrolling and directing Prop. 127—Tom Steyer—lives in San Francisco and has no particular connection with Arizona, and he doesn’t know Arizona law regarding the gathering of signatures,” Taylor said. “The frightening part is environmental leftists are willing to sell out their state and the Arizona Constitution in order to gain funding from a San Francisco billionaire.
“If Arizonans wish to self-impose higher prices and less energy reliability, so be it, but the proposal should have been written and paid for by Arizonans, not a San Francisco elitist,” said Taylor.
‘Campaign of Dishonesty’
Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem (R–Tucson) says energy policy is a complex issue that should be left to elected officials to decide.
“Energy policy should not be decided at the ballot box but through an exhaustive, deliberative process that closely examines pros and cons of proposed policy,” said Finchem. “There have been no hearings on Proposition 127 to determine the real consequences of moving the 1.26 million Arizona households already suffering from energy poverty to increased reliance on wind and solar power.
“If adopted, Prop. 127 would tie Arizona’s future to technologies that do not deliver baseload electricity and are arguably worse for the environment as a whole than the dependable technologies we already have,” Finchem said.
Finchem says the push for renewable energy is about further enriching politically connected elites.
“Unfortunately for Arizona ratepayers, there is a campaign of dishonesty underway to promote the interests of a few, who stand to become even more insanely wealthy than they already are,” said Finchem. “This is not about clean energy; this is about the greed of the billionaires club.”
Money, Not Air
AAE’s Benson agrees Prop. 127 is not about protecting the environment.
“This campaign isn’t about clean energy,” said Benson. “Everyone supports clean energy. The question is whether Arizona voters are willing to double their electricity bills in order to approve Prop 127.
“Once Arizonans know the facts, we’re confident they’ll vote no on Prop. 127,” Benson said.
Timothy Benson ([email protected]) is a policy analyst with The Heartland Institute.