A majority of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which sets utility rates, is being determined as votes are counted from last Tuesday’s election. Running in first place is Democrat Anna Tovar, followed by two Republicans, appointed member Lea Marquez Peterson and primary write-in qualifier Jim O’Connor. Behind them are Republican Eric Sloan and then two Democrats, former Commissioner Bill Mundell and Shea Stanfield. The three winners will join a sitting Republican and a Democrat on the ACC.
Some of the campaign talk was about green energy, and Arizonans two years ago rejected a ballot proposition pushed by California billionaire Tom Steyer that would have imposed the kind of controls that have caused misery in the Golden State.
Meanwhile, the ACC recently approved some admirable standards that the state can live with and which will do much to cut carbon emissions. Often overlooked in the rhetoric is the mainstay Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, which produces a small amount of waste that must be secured but no carbon.
The measure approved on a split vote last month would require all electricity to be carbon free by 2050 and half of it to come from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2035. Electric utilities also must cut carbon emissions in half by 2032 and by 75% by 2040. Conservation incentives and battery storage are part of the plan.
This measure is ambitious but probably doable because it allows enough time for technology to develop, as is already occurring. That is a crucial part — letting market forces work instead of using extreme rules that would sharply increase energy costs and make it less available, especially during hot summers.
The commission was wise to take an action that is important to many people and possibly head off future attempts by outsiders to impose their will. Whoever is seated on the commission will be in a better position with the new rules in place.