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Arizona Republicans Push Competing Clean Energy Initiative

Arizona voters could see two ballot questions on the future of renewable energy this November election.

On Tuesday, the Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure that resembles another clean energy initiative linked to progressive billionaire Tom Steyer. Both would require that half of the state's energy come from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030.

But House Concurrent Resolution 2017 would let state utility regulators ditch any voter approved clean energy mandate if it could raise prices or adversely affect “the well-being of the state.”

Democrats call that language a poison pill.

Senator Steve Farley said the measure is designed to confuse voters — they even have similar titles.

“It’s got almost exactly the same language and the same number of pages with a few key changes that would gut the entire intent of it. I’m certainly hoping the voters will take the time to read the initiative carefully,” Farley said during the committee hearing.

But supporters of the competing initiative say voters should have a second option.

“The voters are intelligent enough to say they can have a locked-in-stone 50 percent goal even if there’s economic devastation it would be difficult to remove ourselves from," Republican Senator John Kavanagh said, "or they can have the goal of 50 with a safety valve.”

The measure passed the committee on a party line vote.

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.