From the Office of Commissioner Andy Tobin

         
  For Immediate Release | 10-4-18      
  Media Contact | Holly Ward      
  Direct | 602-542-3847      
  E-Mail | hward@azcc.gov      
         
 

Commissioner Andy Tobin Praises Energy Plan Movement
Amid Expiring Gas Moratorium 

 
 

PHOENIX – Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin applauds his fellow commissioners for moving forward on his proposed Arizona Energy Modernization Plan and working to get the rulemaking process complete before the Commission’s natural gas moratorium expires in January 2019. The moratorium passed 4‒1 in March 2018.

On August 14, 2018, the Arizona Corporation Commission voted 5‒0 to initiate a new rulemaking docket to formally adopt a comprehensive energy plan for Arizona. The docket was opened on August 17 to evaluate the principles highlighted in the Arizona Energy Modernization Plan and to refine the specific redline language associated with the plan’s Clean Resource Energy Standard and Tariff.

“The Arizona Energy Modernization Plan and accompanying Clean Resource Energy Standard & Tarff rules are the conservative and calculated products of the information accumulated in the above dockets and workshops over the last several years,” said Commissioner Tobin in a letter he submitted to the new rulemaking docket today. According to the letter, the Arizona Energy Modernization Plan “combines the following components:”

  • 80 percent clean energy portfolio by 2050
  • 3 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2030
  • 60 megawatts of biomass capacity for 20 years
  • 15 percent Clean Peak Standard by 2030
  • Utility deployment of certain electric vehicle charging station locations
  • Utility prioritization of renewables + energy storage on new excess transmission line capacity

Although the Arizona Energy Modernization Plan’s biomass portion is estimated to increase average customer bills by $1, it is also calculated to reduce total costs to taxpayers by reducing constant wildfires in rural Arizona. “I’ve been saying this since January: getting this plan passed before we miss the 2020 fire season is of the utmost importance, and not acting sooner has already created pressure for the Commission act more urgently today,” said Commissioner Tobin. 

The potential savings to surface water and groundwater resources in Arizona is also a major factor in favor of further urgency, as Arizona is currently preparing for a potential drought contingency protocol on its Colorado River allocations. 

The plan further includes Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in its definition of clean energy as there are no emissions from it that contribute to Arizona’s air quality crisis. “Palo Verde is Arizona’s ‘Diamond in the Desert,’” said Commissioner Tobin. 

Another thoughtful feature is its requirement for a periodic review of the plan’s requirements, which is important to take advantage of new technologies as they emerge. “I would not support my plan if it were embedded in Arizona’s constitution,” said Commissioner Tobin. 

Commissioner Tobin noted that electric vehicle charging stations are included as one such technology. “Electric vehicles are the pathway of the future, and this plan supports the efforts of Governor Doug Ducey in economic expansion with respect to Nikola Motor Company and Lucid Motors who are bringing electric vehicle manufacturing to Arizona,” said Commissioner Tobin.

“Under this plan, Arizona could become number one in the nation for encouraging new technologies, such as solar, wind, and energy storage, using a conservative and affordable approach,” said Commissioner Tobin. “This plan sends a message that Arizona is a hub for innovation.” 

The Western Resource Advocates calculated energy portfolios that promote energy storage and clean energy resources, such as the Arizona Energy Modernization Plan, could save Arizona over $500 million in ratepayer costs and 135,000 acre-feet of water by 2032. 

The Arizona Corporation Commission may be the only public utility commission in the nation to deny its utilities’ respective Integrated Resource Plans and impose a nine-month moratorium on new natural gas capital investments. 

“We have made significant progress by halting certain utility plant investments without having a comprehensive plan, but that was always intended to be a temporary step,” said Commissioner Tobin. “The moratorium was imperative because it bought the Commission time to develop a comprehensive clean energy plan that focused on reliability, preventing future stranded assets, and reducing consumer costs.” The moratorium is scheduled to expire in January 2019. 

The Arizona Energy Modernization Plan was proposed 10 months ago, prior to the moratorium, and has not yet been adopted as a final rule. “Our new rulemaking docket is just the first step,” said Commissioner Tobin. “It’s not as fast as I’d like it to be, but I want everyone who’s been watching to know that it is moving in the right direction.”

To allow the Commission to move forward with the Arizona Energy Modernization Plan expediently and as originally proposed in January, Commissioner Tobin resubmitted to the new rulemaking docket today all the data and documents necessary to maintain its evidentiary support. The submission is likely the largest ever single filing on any issue by a commissioner in Commission history and included thousands of pages and documents from prior workshops and including stakeholder input at the Commission. 

The rulemaking process in Arizona usually takes anywhere from six months to a year but accelerating some of the steps could help to reduce the process down to as fast as 120 days. Commissioner Tobin hopes to celebrate the effective date of the new Arizona Energy Modernization Plan on Arizona Statehood Day, February 14, 2019. 

Link to Commissioner Tobin’s new letter to the docket: http://docket.images.azcc.gov/0000192672.pdf 

Link to the Commission’s new rulemaking docket: http://edocket.azcc.gov/Docket/DocketDetailSearch?docketId=21658#docket-detail-container2 

Link to Arizona Energy Modernization Plan: http://azcc.gov/energyplan 

 

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About Commissioner Andy Tobin:
Commissioner Andy Tobin was first elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2006 and served as Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2014. His leadership within the State of Arizona includes his time as former Director of the Arizona Department of Weights and Measures, Director of the Arizona Department of Insurance, and Acting Director for the Arizona Department of Financial Services. Mr. Tobin also served as National President of the U.S. Jaycees Foundation. He was appointed by Governor Doug Ducey to fill a vacant seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2015 and elected to serve a full term in 2016. During his time at the Commission, Commissioner Tobin has focused on getting broadband (internet) connections into rural Arizona schools, been instrumental in establishing the Water Emergency Team to proactively protect Arizona’s water supply, and introduced the Arizona Energy Modernization Plan, which calls for 80 percent of the state’s electricity generation to come from clean energy by 2050 and advocates for an end to devastating wildfires through the adoption of biomass related energy. 

The Arizona Corporation Commission was established by the state’s constitution to regulate public utilities and business incorporation. The five Commissioners elected to the Corporation Commission oversee executive, legislative, and judicial proceedings on behalf of Arizonans when it comes to their water, electricity, telephone, and natural gas resources as well as the regulation of securities, pipeline, and railroad safety. To learn more about the Arizona Corporation Commission and its Commissioners, visit .