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Clean Energy Initiative Files Language, Draws Opposition From APS Parent Company

A campaign to raise Arizona’s share of renewable energy has filed the proposed constitutional amendment with state election officials.

The ballot measure, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, would require the state’s public utilities to get half of their power from renewable resources, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower by 2030.

Ten percent of that electricity would specifically come from distributed energy resources like rooftop solar.

Arizona State University Professor Kris Mayes helped craft the current clean energy target of 15 percent by 2025 while serving on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

She said this initiative resembles the existing policy, but bumps up the target.   

“Because renewable energy is now cheaper than central scale fossil fuel plants, this proposal will actually help ratepayers … to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars,” Mayes said.

"We now have the lowest renewable energy standard of all the states in the southwest and it's probably high time to allow Arizonans to decide," she said.

The ballot measure has local support from groups like the Arizona Asthma Coalition and the backing of a national advocacy group founded by progressive billionaire and activist Tom Steyer.

The new clean energy target would not include the Salt River Project.

An opposition group called Arizonans for Affordable Electricity has already formed.

“This initiative attempts to hijack the constitution and prescribes very specific requirements in terms of the kind of energy that should be produced and in what proportion,” said Matt Benson, a spokesperson for the group.

“Anytime you come in and do that it is necessarily going to raise rates,” he said.

Arizona Public Service’s parent company Pinnacle West Capital Corporation is funding the new group, Benson said.

Supporters of the renewable energy initiative now need to gather more than 220,000 signatures to get it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment this November.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.