As a part of our coverage for the Arizona Corporation Commission race, ScrambleWatch asked Republican Rick Fowlkes 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?
I think the market is the best way to promote ( the clean energy) generation portfolio of the power companies. I am strongly in favor of market forces rather than government telling business how to take care of business. Government shouldn’t be mandating how businesses operate in my view.
What do you think of the current Renewable Energy Standard?
The problem with the current portfolio requirements is that they’re just going to be too expensive for the rate payers. The power coming out of Palo Verde nuclear plant costs about two cents a kilowatt hour. If APS brings in their new solar plant near Gila Bend on budget, like they’re proposing to compile it to mandate. The power coming out of that facility is 18 cents a kilowatt hour. That extra cost is going to be passed on to the rate payers, and I don’t think that’s right. I think we need to let the utility companies go at their own pace, and incorporate renewable energy options into their generating portfolio when its economically feasable, and let the leaders in the industry decide when and where and how rather than compile some sort of mandate from the Corporation Commission. What I would change about it is to, rather than making it mandatory, I see no problem with government setting some targets saying ‘hey, here’s what we think is the right mix that we’d like to see you guys shoot for,’ but make it optional, not mandatory. It’s a dangerous precedent. I’ve talked to the APS people about this and they say they’re not joining the Goldwater Institute lawsuit against the ACC saying that this mandate is unconstitutional, they’re on board with it. My question to them is “what if the Democrats get in, and set that mandate at 30 percent of renewable generation instead of 15 percent?” How would they feel about that? It oversteps the boundaries of the Corporation Commission in my view and I would tone it down to make it more rate payer friendly and power company friendly.