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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: As OPEC turns to solar power, why hasn’t Arizona?

As oil prices continue to drop globally, Gulf states are increasingly being forced to find alternate sources of revenue. Many, subsequently, have begun to invest heavily in more sustainable forms of energy, such as solar, to help offset the economic slowdown created by the oil market. Arizona, however, is reticent to invest in solar energy, which is quite strange for an extremely sunny state, and that’s a problem. 

Dubai, for instance, has recently constructed a solar park that will produce the world’s cheapest solar energy and hopefully help provide 15 percent of the power output in Dubai with renewable energy by 2030. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, made headlines this summer when he announced he mainly wanted to discuss solar power at the Oil Producing and Exporting Countries meeting in June. Kuwait recently signed a $385 million contract for a solar energy project. 

Solar power is emerging as a viable alternative to some fossil fuels, and with the International Energy Agency estimating that solar power could contribute 27 percent of the world’s electricity by 2050 if significant technological and legislative progress is made, it is imperative to invest in the energy now. 

Unfortunately, multiple groups in Arizona are still fighting the adoption of widespread solar energy despite the state’s ideal environment for the alternative source of power. Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest power company, has consistently protested against solar and attempted, through various means, to prevent consumers from choosing to go green.

Primarily, APS has promoted its interests by lobbying for monthly fees. A $5-per-month fee already exists, but claiming that solar power will be a significant financial burden, the company recently has requested a $21-per-month fee to be added to the electricity bills of those who install rooftop panels on their homes, mitigating possible savings to the consumer. 

Furthermore, according to the Associated Press, “[APS] is widely believed to have spent as much as $3.2 million in last year’s Corporation Commission election to back its favored candidates, who easily won.” 

These funds, also known as dark money, would have been channeled into the campaigns of APS-favored Tom Forese and Doug Little by APS via non-profits. If this claim is accurate, the elected commissioners would have serious conflicts of interest. The production of cleaner, greener energy should not be controlled by political bodies. 

In fact, as stated by the publication Industry Dive, a complaint was filed two weeks ago by two former commissioners and solar company Sunrun “requesting that [the commissioners] recuse themselves from weighing in on a proposed grid access fee from one of the state’s major power producers.” The submitters argue that the bias on the Corporation Commission would negatively impact the development of solar power in Arizona.

Rather than continue to fight the inevitable with dark money and unnecessary fees, APS should instead be acknowledging the immense benefits solar energy could bring to Arizona. According to Energy Informative, a site dedicated to helping consumers understand renewable energy, solar power saves consumers thousands, increases home value, helps to protect the environment and saves citizens the frustration of dealing with fluctuating electricity prices.

Arizona should follow the example set by the Gulf states and commit to greener energy either through government action or promotion of private solar companies. 

Only companies such as APS stand to gain from preventing the implementation of solar energy, and until effective laws are set to prevent their absurdly large campaign contributions, Arizona will remain behind the times as the world invests in the sun.


Follow Cooper Temple on Twitter.


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