ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican John Allen on Renewable Energy Standards

As a part of our coverage for the Arizona Corporation Commission race, ScrambleWatch asked Republican John Allen about the role of the agency in setting policy about clean energy.

Is the free market the proper mechanism to promote cleaner energy or should government be involved?

The fiduciary responsibility of the Corporation Commission is for the rate payer and the industry itself. That’s in the constitution. It can take environmental concerns as a concern, as one of the factors for figuring out what to do. I am not a big renewable energies guy, but I don’t understand why this wasn’t renamed the clean air standard, and had tons of nuclear. If we had nuclear plants powering us right now like we should, we’d be meeting the Kyoto standards. If we had five nuclear plants in this state we’d be fine. A lot of this is not about clean air, it’s about solar, and propping up an industry that’s very expensive. You can achieve all these goals with other technologies. Then why aren’t they in the standard? It’s a curious thing. If you look at it from the point of; if solar costs 28 cents a kilowatt to produce and nuclear costs four, why’d they go with the 28? It’s really one of those things where you go “this isn’t about clean air, it’s about solar.” I’m all for solar when it’s cheap, but when it costs 28 cents a kilowatt, it makes no sense.

What do you think of the current Renewable Energy Standard?

I don’t believe the 15 percent is appropriate. If given an opportunity I think I’d vote against continuing it. I am not an energy snob. Whatever keeps people in their homes in Sun City, but you can’t double people’s electronic bills in order to chase a technology that’s that expensive. That is an exotic. The things they’re going with, wind and solar, are exotic mechanisms for producing electricity and there isn’t the money in a lot of the market to support it.

If you read the constitution and what the job calls for, it calls for watching out for the consumer. If you’re going to save the planet from the Corporation Commission, I think you’re going for the wrong job. I could have done that while I was in the legislature. That’s the place for that. If you read the citings of the Goldwater Institute’s argument, go to the constitution and then go to the statue, you’ll find that yes, the corporation commission is on some pretty thin ice. The law of the land is the standard that’s there, and if I’m never in the majority on changing it, I’ll work with them, but its very hard for the payers of poorer and fixed income to pay for these exotic ways of generating when there’s others available.


One Response

  1. “If we had five nuclear plants in this state we’d be fine.”

    Does Allen have any idea about how much water a nuclear plant requires?

    1-2 billion gallons per day per reactor!!! Even if we had the water it would take a decade to build and the cost would be huge. The new proposed nuclear reactor at Turkey Point in South Florida on Biscayne Bay has enough water, but it is estimated to cost $12 billion dollars to build, or 1.5 times the cost of solar Photovoltaics (PV). Also, where does he get this 28 cents a kilowatt figure? Southern California Edison just committed to sales contracts with levelized costs around 12 cents/kWh.

    The REST does not just promote solar but a whole basket of renewable. Nuclear is not a renewable solution (ie Peak uranium).

    I will leave with a quote from Barry Goldwater:
    “Solar energy is a must.”

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