Arizona is said to have something for everyone: cold snowy mountains and a hot desert climate; Native American lands, rural communities, and vibrant urban centers; well-renowned universities and trade schools; international attractions including the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam as well as national sports teams, and local arts, cultural and ethnic celebrations.
As Arizonans, we are often known for our independent spirit. And when it comes to energy policy, Republican and Democrat policymakers in our state have worked together to put Arizona on a path to a more energy-efficient and a cleaner energy future. Now Arizonans across the political spectrum want government officials to take the necessary next steps on the route to an energy system that will reliably meet the demands of our growing and diverse population; protect consumer pocketbooks; and provide air quality and public health benefits.
The good news is that like our state, the clean energy sector provides something for everyone: energy efficient products and programs save consumers money on our monthly electric bills; farmers reap economic gains through the placement of wind turbines on their land; solar companies put the sun to work and provide good paying jobs to Arizonans; and private sector and utilities install electric vehicle charging stations to connect us both in-and-outside of Arizona.
A Guide to Energy in Arizona provides elected and government officials, business and organizational leaders, members of the media, and Arizonans with a primer on energy issues in our state. A Guide to Energy in Arizona highlights key research and reports on issues including: Energy Efficiency & Demand Response; Integrated Resource Planning (IRP); Clean Energy; Renewable Energy & Distributed Generation; Just & Equitable Transition for Coal-Impacted Communities; Electric Vehicles (EVs); and Consumer Impacts & Public Participation. A number of organizations and individuals contributed their decades of energy expertise to this effort.
In recent years, as the guide notes, technological improvements have contributed to a more efficient and cleaner power grid. Solar energy costs have dramatically declined; storage for electricity is becoming widely available and cost effective; and the number of electric vehicle manufacturers and models has increased. Furthermore, electric utilities are collaborating more closely, providing opportunities for energy independence, reliability improvements for the electric system, and cost savings for consumers.
As Arizona moves to a more energy-efficient and cleaner energy future, costs and benefits to consumers will undoubtedly be a central part of the discussion. Policymakers will need to be cognizant of return on investments and act with both short-and-long-term implications in mind. For example, externalities such as employment potential, air quality improvements, public health gains, water savings, and economic advancements contribute to the clean energy factors that positively impact consumers’ pocketbooks. And policymakers will also need to listen to stakeholders and consumers who often provide valuable data and information, as well as diverse experiences and perspectives.
Diane E. Brown is the Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, an organization that conducts research and education on issues in the public interest.
A Guide to Energy in Arizona can be downloaded at www.arizonapirgedfund.org. Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s resource guides include: Ways to Save Energy at Home and Reducing Your Energy Bill. Individuals needing financial assistance to help with utility bill payments can contact the non-profit Wildfire.