Much of Arizona’s customer base again may be considered for competition in electricity service, something that has come up before and was rejected. While competition usually is a good thing, Arizonans should beware when it involves an essential service that now is provided by regulated monopolies.
Green Mountain Energy Co. has a nice-sounding name and in fact claims it provides energy that is 100% renewable. Based in New Jersey, it has filed with the state of Arizona a notice that it wants to compete with Arizona Public Service Co. and Tucson Electric Power for home and business customers. The two big utilities no doubt will oppose the plan before the Arizona Corporation Commission and in court if necessary.
This idea has been tried before but was rejected in the wake of problems elsewhere, most notably the rolling blackouts and price spikes in California in the early 2000s.
Green Mountain says it has surveyed Arizonans and found many want competition and more renewable energy. Both of those concepts sound great to people who don’t understand the issues. The bottom line, however, is that few people will want higher bills or unreliable electric power.
The two big Arizona companies provide renewable power in the low double digits of percentage now, but the state plans to ramp that up in coming decades. For APS, which generates carbon-free nuclear power and is adding to its solar sources, the plan is 100% carbon-free by 2050.
Deregulation has been blamed as one of the causes of the massive grid failure in Texas last winter. The senior advocacy group AARP has spoken out on the subject of electricity competition in the past, saying sales efforts target vulnerable people and the result often is customers paying more.
Arizonans will need to learn more about this topic. Once again, they must use awareness to help protect themselves against something not in their interest.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.