By Vin Nitido, Trico CEO and GM
This November, Arizona voters are likely to make an important decision regarding our energy and environmental future. An initiative petition is being circulated now for the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment to the Arizona Constitution.
The Amendment would require electric utilities (like Trico) to provide at least 50 percent of their annual sales of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. That is an aggressive target – currently about 7.5 percent of Trico’s annual energy sales are derived from renewable resources.
Will it cost you more for us to get there? Yes. Even though the cost of renewable resources (particularly community-scale solar) continues to decrease as efficiencies improve, solar resources are not yet fully competitive from an economic standpoint with fossil-fuel alternatives. That will remain the case for at least the near future, with natural gas prices projected to stay at historically low levels. While it is difficult to predict the future price of renewable resources (or natural gas for comparison), our preliminary assessment is that complying with the initiative could cost the average Trico Member $40 per month more on their bill by 2030.
Of course, while cost is an important concern, particularly for economically disadvantaged Members, it’s not the only consideration, is it?
Many of Trico’s Members consider global climate change to be the defining existential issue of our time, one that must be addressed immediately. Those Members will consider the additional cost to be only part of their decision of whether to support the Amendment. Unfortunately, that important consideration is not acknowledged in materials provided thus far by utilities opposing the Amendment.
Because the Trico Board represents a Membership with diverse viewpoints regarding the economic, social and environmental impact of renewable energy, the Board does not believe it appropriate for Trico to advocate for or against a Constitutional renewable energy mandate. Rather, we will continue to present our Membership with the most accurate data we can relating to the potential difference in cost to Members between a long-term resource plan using conventional resources and one that is compliant with the Amendment. Our Members can then make their own informed decision regarding whether to support the Amendment or not, using their own criteria in addition to the cost data. We will keep you informed as the initiative proceeds.
Whichever way you feel, it’s important that you get out and vote in November on this and other critical issues.