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Advocates Urge AZ Regulators to Keep Energy-Efficiency Standards

Over the past decade, the Arizona Efficiency Standard has provided utility customers with rebates for items such as air conditioner repairs and upgrades, home insulation and smart thermostats. (LisaYoung/AdobeStock)
Over the past decade, the Arizona Efficiency Standard has provided utility customers with rebates for items such as air conditioner repairs and upgrades, home insulation and smart thermostats. (LisaYoung/AdobeStock)
March 10, 2020

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Corporation Commission has received high marks for many of its recent policies benefiting the state's ratepayers. But as the commission, which regulates the state's public utilities, opens a two-day workshop on energy rules this week, the state's Energy Efficiency Standard program is missing from the agenda.

Diane Brown, executive director at Arizona PIRG, said failing to extend the program would be a mistake, as the efficiency standard has served the state's power utility ratepayers well.

"Regulated utilities have provided opportunities for ratepayers to save money through rebates ranging from upgrading air conditioner units to better insulation and smart thermostats," Brown said.

She said over time, the efficiency standard has saved the energy needed to power half a million homes, saved more than 14 million gallons of water, and produced more than $1 billion in economic benefits.

Brown said agency staff, who prepare the commission's agenda, may be reacting to outside pressure from some utilities looking to cut expenses.

"When it comes to energy efficiency, commission staff are largely focused on reporting when they should be focused on results," she said.

According to Brown, energy efficiency is a comparatively small expense over time for the utilities. She said the commission should keep the standards in place and expand them from this year through the end of the decade.

"By extending and expanding from 22% to 35% in 2030, commissioners would continue the increase of roughly 1.5% energy savings every year," she said.

She added that, beyond the savings to ratepayers, the Energy Efficiency Standard brings improvements to air quality, public health and job creation, and avoids the cost of transmission, distribution and other significant capital expenditures.

Disclosure: Arizona PIRG Education Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Energy Policy, Urban Planning/Transportation. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ