New Western Govs? Head Faces In-State v. Regional Renewables

By Published On: June 25, 2005

Arizona?s intention to keep renewables development inside the state puts the state?s governor, who is the new chair of the Western Governors? Association (WGA), in a bind. The WGA is pushing regionwide development of renewables while the state has taken an Only In My Back Yard stance?versus a NIMBY attitude?about green power development. Arizona governor Janet Napolitano became head of the association June 14. The organization?s push for Westwide renewables development includes creating a multistate regional credit-trading system and finding transmission routes. At the same time, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) wants eligibility for utility rate recovery to be limited to power produced inside the state. If a project is outside the state, it can receive the credit, according to the ACC?if there is an Arizona partner. The WGA?s regionwide approach is an outgrowth of a proposal from New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, backed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Napolitano has not revealed her views on the ACC?s position. Lori Faeth, her natural resource policy adviser, said Napolitano supports renewable energy for Arizona and believes the state can be a leader in the area. At the same time, the governor sees renewables as a regional issue for the West and noted that Arizona remains an active participant in the WGA?s energy advisory council, Faeth added. Heather Murphy, ACC spokesperson, said the commission?s and WGA?s views are not mutually exclusive. Arizona?s in-state preference is a topic of significant debate, raising questions about whether the ACC?s proposed policy violates interstate commerce regulations, Murphy said. There are also concerns that Arizona could find other states boycotting it in renewables trade. The ACC is considering an open meeting in mid-July to debate the in-state renewables proposal. Legal challenges could proceed only after the ACC gave its final blessing to the standards, which could come in November. ?Certainly, though, the commissioners would like to see the projects born and nurtured here,? Murphy said. ?There are other practicalities, such as proximity to the load pockets, proximity to transmission lines, etc., that really drive the issue of where the projects are sited.? WGA has no comment on the rift, said spokesperson Karen Deike.

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