Diane E. Brown: Although the magnitude of the economic situation in Arizona and across the nation is daunting, energy efficiency offers an immediate, proven and important step consumers and businesses can take to save money, create jobs, stimulate the local economy and reduce overall energy prices.
Although the magnitude of the economic situation in Arizona and across the nation is daunting, energy efficiency offers an immediate, proven and important step consumers and businesses can take to save money, create jobs, stimulate the local economy and reduce overall energy prices.
Energy efficiency costs less than other resources and can help alleviate some transmission and distribution need.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund has teamed up with consumer, environmental and community allies to encourage increasing effective and efficient energy efficiency program requirements to at least 20 percent by 2020 as part of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s workshops and the APS rate case.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s principles for the electric system include:
• Access to safe, reliable, affordable electricity service. The goal of electricity regulation should be to provide adequate, reliable service to consumers at the lowest cost — including external costs such as public health, economic and social impacts.
• Balance the long-term and short-term needs of consumers, as well as the interests of various classes of consumers. Electricity rates should be designed to promote economically efficient and socially responsible outcomes — including energy efficiency, rate stability and the protection of low-income consumers.
• Consumers should be assured that the public interest guides all decisions with regard to the electric system. Market and regulatory barriers that deter the use of energy efficiency should be removed. System planning must take place in the public sphere, include ample opportunities for broad public participation in decision-making and ensure that the views of small consumers are adequately represented in the process.
Increasing energy efficiency to at least 20 percent by 2020 tops the list of achieving the above principles. Energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest and cleanest way for our state to meet its growing energy needs and to jump-start our economy. Over the last year, headlines of soaring oil prices, a declining market, and national attention to renewable energy have helped elevate the need and desire for increasing energy efficiency.
In addition to the cost-saving benefits, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund appreciates the air quality and public health benefits created through energy efficiency. With a brown cloud all too often hanging overhead, anticipated population growth in our state generating additional energy and water demands, high asthma and other respiratory illness rates attributed in part to current nonrenewable energy sources, energy efficiency is a clean and healthy solution for Arizona rate payers.
By increasing energy efficiency program requirements to at least 20 percent by 2020, we will be on the way to an energy efficient Arizona.
Diane E. Brown is the executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on public interest issues. More information can be found at www.arizonapirg.org.