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25th March
written by Sean Noble

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman wants you to pay more for electricity.

Newman has sent a letter to the Chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, Henry Waxman (D-CA) asking that stimulus money be sent directly to the Corporation Commission so that they can ensure that there are funds for pushing more renewable energy in Arizona. He doesn’t trust Governor Brewer or the Legislature.

Under current law, Arizona’s power companies are supposed to generate 15% of their power from renewable energy sources by the year 2025.  Newman wants to push that number to 25%.

What most people don’t understand is how incredibly expensive it is to produce renewable energy. (That’s why there is so little of it.)  So how much will it cost taxpayers to get us to 15% of renewable?  First, we need to know how much renewable energy we currently produce.  The answer?  0.1% of the energy produced in Arizona is renewable (under current definitions, since, incredibly, radical environmentalists don’t count hydropower as renewable.)

So moving from 0.1% to a full 15% in the next 15 years is going to cost A LOT of money.  And that comes right from your pocket in the form of either higher rates or higher taxes.

Below are excerpts of Newman’s letter.  It is a tour de force of pie-in-the-sky thinking which takes shots at Governor Brewer, the legislature, the Goldwater Institute, and of course, power companies.  If Newman thinks this is what Arizona voters thought they were getting when they voted for him, it’s a good thing it’s a four year term.  Heck, if he pushes this kind of agenda, especially in the middle of a recession, he might get recalled.


… I am writing to request that future funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency be appropriated directly to the Arizona Corporation Commission rather than to the executive branch. Please let me explain why.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is one of only seven states with a constitutionally created public utilities commission.  We have jurisdiction over Arizona’s current Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which received final approval in 2007. Enacting the RES too many years and was fought in the courts by conservative think tank the Goldwater Institute.  Arizona’s RES currently requires regulated utilities to get 15% of power from renewable resources by 2025.  I am pushing to raise the RES to 25%.

Arizona’s conservative legislature has forced the Corporation Commission to play defense, as bills have been introduced that would:

·         Remove the power to enact and administer the RES from the Commission and give the legislature “exclusive power, authority and jurisdiction” over energy policy;

·         Declare nuclear power a “renewable” resource, effectively gutting the RES; and

·         Forbid state environmental officials from participating in the Western Climate Initiative.


Former Governor Janet Napolitano joined the Western Climate Initiative, and after some chiding from critics, including myself, our new Governor Jan Brewer decided she will remain a participant, albeit a passive one.

We appreciate and support federal funding for renewable energy, weatherization and energy efficiency projects in the recent stimulus bill.  However, I am writing to ask you to consider an alternative allocation for states like Arizona with constitutionally created Commissions:

1.      that energy funds be directed to the Corporation Commission rather than the Governor’s Energy Office or the legislature in future legislation considered by your committee;

2.      that the Arizona Corporation Commission is required to be in the process that determines how the funds are spent, perhaps with veto power or at least a couple of votes.

… As we look at the institutions with jurisdiction over our energy decisions, it is becoming more clear to me that we need diverse voices at the table.  The power companies, co-ops, and investor-owned utilities that are NOT under the jurisdiction of expert and independent public utilities commissions continue to be dominated by narrow special interests. We must break open that juggernaut if we hope to make progress in those states that are lagging in renewable energy production…

… The Commission has set aside $37 million for energy efficiency projects that are allowed cost recovery by regulated utilities; but I’m afraid that is all the stimulus funds are sent to the Governor and legislature, we will not make the best possible use of these monies.

I believe that the current Arizona Corporation Commission has a much greater level of commitment to implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency. I request that you consider requiring a wider diversity of voices to determine how Arizona’s energy stimulus funds are spent by requiring that the ACC and similarly situated public utility commissions be part of the decision-making process in determining how funds are spent.”

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  1. jsmith

    Wow. Clearly, Mr Newman, like every other Democrat, did not take the time to actually read the stimulus bill. Otherwise, he would know that the money actually goes to the local governments, not the state legislature. Oops.

  2. Elle

    He is ridiculous! Is he out of his mind?

  3. Mr. Conservative

    Is he still smoking pot? He must be to write this letter for all the public to see at a time like this. Anyone out there not pay enough for electricity?

  4. Ann


  5. Woody

    I think he feels like the Gravy Train is leaving without him. He wants power and having control over spending floats his boat.

  6. Niki

    He didn’t read the stimulus bill; he just saw a bunch of dollar signs and decided he needed power over the money even though he isn’t entitled to it. So he went whining to Waxman. Pathetic!

  7. DGN

    Interesting, if useless, tack to take in requesting funds. There’s a reason the stimulus is directed to governors. Directing the money is more centralized and easier to manage and account for. I’m sure Dean Martin, Ken Bennett, Terry Goddard and Tom Horne would also love to have authority over funding for their respective agencies, but the stimulus doesn’t even give them a meaningful consultation role. As it is, accounting for the dollars will be like herding cats. And… just how many jobs would be created through Newman’s plan? As bogu as the stimulus is, it does have the stated goal of creating jobs, which is unlikely to occur under Newman’s plan, but we knew that.

  8. […] in March I blogged about Commissioner Paul Newman’s letter to Congress stating a goal to push the RES from 15% to 25% and asking for Stimulus funds to […]

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