ScrambleWatch Q&A: Republican Joseph Hobbs on Renewable Energy Standards

As a part of our coverage for the Arizona Corporation Commission race, ScrambleWatch asked Republican Joseph Hobbs 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?

It depends on how you would quantify and classify (government) help. In terms of not providing any roadblocks to the development of good renewable energy sources, I’m very very much in favor of that. In terms of helping with a bully pulpit to promote long term implementation of renewable sources in the state of Arizona, I’m very much in favor of that. We must take advantage of the assets we have in place, all of the sunshine that we have, and develop some viable options based on that. There’s some really positive developments here rather recently, particularly in solar thermal, and wind is also getting to be more viable. I would certainly like to do everything possible to support the development of all of the renewable energy sources. I don’t think there’s a really complete that is in front of everybody today. Hydrogen typically is not on that list. We need lots of power. We need good, safe, dependable sources of power. I’m a big proponent of power, I’m a technical person. I like to get new developments and new products out of the lab and into the practical application.

In terms of the specific renewable energy standard that we have here in Arizona that was adopted back in 2006 on a 4 to 1 vote, that actually was overarching and very cumbersome and I’m not in favor of what it put in place, which is a bunch of mandates. Those mandates are going to require all of the rate payers of Arizona to absorb a series of rate increase requests that are going to end up costing us hundreds of millions of dollars before it’s all through. Nobody can really tell us what that total cost is going to be. The mandates, I’m dramatically against. Renewable energy services and ways to make that happen I’m very much in support of.

What do you think of the current Renewable Energy Standard?

I would leave the framework that was put in place as a series of objectives. Right now, the way it’s written it requires all of the power companies in Arizona, of which there are 18, some very large, some very small, it requires those that are regulated to integrate renewables into the overall power generation to accumulate 15 percent of the power output by the year 2025, without regard to cost. It also requires those regulated utilities to come back, after they figure out what there costs are, to come back with a rate increase request to cover whatever those costs are. It is an absolute mandate that is very onerous. I’m in favor of the step that was taken recently by the Goldwater Institute, which was to petition the ACC to withdraw what they did because it is not authorized in the state constitution. It is not part of what the ACC was put in place to do. If that withdrawal was not in the cards, then I would like to be part of the process to eliminate the mandate part of that RES, maybe keep the objectives in place, that would be fine, but eliminate the mandate which is going to affect every single rate payer in the state of Arizona in a very negative manner.

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