Franks raps ACC stance on standards

KINGMAN - U.S. Congressman Trent Franks has thrown his hat into the ring in the discussion on whether the Arizona Corporation Commission has the authority to set renewable energy standards.

Franks issued a statement Tuesday giving his support to Arizona House Bill 2701. The bill states that only the Arizona Legislature has the authority to set renewable energy standards for the state.

In 2006, the ACC set a requirement that all electrical utilities get at least 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. In 2008, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the ACC in the Arizona Supreme Court to strike down the requirement, saying it interfered with a utility's right to do business as they see fit and would put an undue burden on consumers.

"In recent years, Arizona's Corporation Commission has overstepped its boundaries by seeking to enact policies not within its purview under the Arizona Constitution," Franks said in his statement. "By constitutional mandate, the Corporation Commission has the authority to set utility rates. It does not, however, have the constitutional authority to define renewable energy standards, and it has sought to do just that."

The ACC is not only out of line, in his opinion, it is setting policy that is harmful to the state and its residents, Franks said.

"Such stringent requirements, in addition to being nearly impossible to actually achieve, also put a financial strain on Arizonans," he said. "By requiring utility companies (and, by extension, their customers) to invest in exorbitantly expensive new technologies, the Corporation Commission is putting an unnecessary financial strain on citizens and businesses within my district, who have been among the hardest hit in the nation by our current economic recession."

The bill also requires utilities that offer at least 750,000 energy hours to derive at least 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. It would allow energy companies to use energy efficiency rebates sent to customers who install solar panels, net metering, demand response programs and the purchase of renewable energy from customers with solar panels or wind turbines to be used as credit toward that 15 percent requirement.

It gives the ACC the authority to enforce the bill, but it also exempts utilities from having to meet the requirement if doing so would impact its ability to provide a reasonable rate to its customers.