Alternative Energy & Efficiency

A Commitment to Cleaner Energy

[Arizona Republic web site, Feb. 11]

State regulators renewed their commitment to cleaner energy [on Feb. 10] by increasing the amount of power some of Arizona's biggest electric utilities would have to derive from renewable resources such as solar, water and wind. But Arizona corporation commissioners also opened the door for consumers to shoulder more of the bill for the "green" power that can cost several times more to produce than traditional electricity. Calling it a momentous day for the state, corporation commissioners voted 4 to 1 to boost the so-called solar and environmentally friendly portfolio standard to 1.1 percent of certain utilities' energy resources by 2007. California has set a goal of 20 percent by 2010. For Arizona Public Service [APS], 1.1 percent would be about 50 megawatts, enough to light 25,000 homes. The Salt River Project is not regulated by the commission and unaffected by the rule. APS now must obtain 0.8 percent of power from renewable resources under rules passed in 2000. The rules required the commission to assess the program this year and to determine whether to raise the bar. APS wanted the commission to raise the surcharge before increasing the renewable requirement, but Vice President Ed Fox said the company "looked forward to working out the details in the workshops." The commission agreed to hold workshops to determine whether a current surcharge on residential electric bills of up to 35 cents per month should be increased and whether a requirement that 50 percent of the renewable energy comes from solar resources, should be modified or eliminated.