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Arizona Corporation Commission Kills Critical Consumer Protections: Fails to Save Energy, Cut Electricity Bills

For Immediate Release

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Arizona PIRG Education Fund, and Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona, denounced yesterday’s action by the Arizona Corporation Commission to kill its Energy Rules, including critical consumer protections to cut utility costs that would have expanded Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard through 2030.

Yesterday’s actions reversed an earlier bipartisan decision to strengthen energy saving programs for customers of Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power. Over the last decade, these programs have saved ratepayers more than $1.4 billion, avoided the need to construct 14 gas combustion turbines, saved more than 15 billion gallons of water, and enabled more than 40,000 jobs statewide.

The adoption of the Energy Rules, including the expansion of energy efficiency, was projected to deliver more than $2 billion in savings for all Arizonans.

The Energy Rules died in a 2-3 vote after the adoption of a weakening amendment put forward by Commissioner Justin Olson (R) and supported by Chairwoman Lea Márquez-Peterson (R) and Commissioner Jim O’Connor (R). That amendment made the Rules’ requirements to save energy, cut power demand, and reduce emissions entirely optional. After weakening the Rules, Commissioner Olson voted against them. Commissioners Sandra Kennedy (D) and Anna Tovar (D) voted against the gutted proposal, noting its ineffectiveness with essential provisions eliminated.

Each of the organizations pointed to the serious consequences of yesterday’s action:

 Ellen Zuckerman, Utility Program Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, said: “Arizonans across the state will pay the price of this bad decision through more expensive electric bills. The Commission failed to advance key consumer protections to eliminate energy waste and give a much needed boost to programs that make everyone’s bills more affordable. After years of hard work and careful study, billions in potential cost savings and thousands of local jobs are now in jeopardy.”

Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, stated: “After years of research, public meetings, and overwhelming support from large and small businesses, consumer organizations, faith leaders, environmental groups, and individual ratepayers, the Commission was set up for a slam dunk on its Energy Rules but instead dropped the ball. The Commission’s failure to extend and expand Arizona’s very successful Energy Efficiency Standard means ratepayers will not reap increased financial benefits, and businesses will not have regulatory certainty to invest in our state.”

Cynthia Zwick, Executive Director of Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona, added: “Energy efficiency helps low-income households save money on their monthly electric bills. By failing to increase the Energy Efficiency Standard as part of the Energy Rules, the Commission missed a critical opportunity to aid consumers struggling to pay their electric bills.”

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