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Cooperatives look to short-circuit Proposition 127

September 28, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — “My fence is lonely since the primary,” said Pam Pokorny, as she accepted a yard sign against Proposition 127 from Tyler Carlson, Mohave Electric Cooperative chief executive officer. “I had to take the rest of the signs down.”

Pokorny and nearly 70 other people attended a town hall meeting against the ballot initiative Wednesday, hosted by MEC and Grand Canyon Electric Cooperative Association.

“I came out because after seeing the ad for no and the ad for yes,” Pokorny said. “They both made sense to me and I thought I better be here and get educated. I trust our electric company, Mohave Electric, to tell me the truth.”

Proposition 127, to be decided in the Nov. 6 general election, seeks to increase the state’s renewable portfolio standards, requiring that electric utilities acquire a minimum amount of electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, certain hydropower, geothermal and landfill gas energies. Current standards set by the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, requires 15 percent electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. Proposition 127 would require electric utilities to step increase renewable energy sources to 50 percent by 2030.

During the question and answer period, area resident Donald Smith told attendees his home is 100 percent solar powered and that he loves solar, but that solar isn’t free.

“Solar is way too expensive to mandate it,” Smith told the Daily News. “It needs to be brought in slowly, like (MEC) is doing. As the technology progresses the costs will come down, but right now it is too labor intensive and too expensive. If (people) don’t think that those who are pushing the proposition aren’t going to get in their pocket they are sadly mistaken.”

In his presentation, GCECA spokesman John Wallace told attendees Arizonans would see their electric bills go up by about 40 percent and said that California customers pay roughly 47 percent higher electric rates because of a similar measure instituted there.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, funded by NextGen Climate Action, has spent more than $8 million to support the amendment. California billionaire activist and philanthropist Tom Steyer founded NextGen.

“Prop. 127 is a constitutional amendment, so if it goes in, it doesn’t come back out again,” Wallace said. “People should vote against this because this is a bad California mandate that’s coming into our state and it will result in significant price increases in your rates and you can see that in California already. They pay 47 percent higher rates than the rest of the country — We’re not against solar. It has to make sense and it has to be reliable and affordable.”

Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, backed by Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, has spent more than $10 million opposing the initiative. Pinnacle West Capital is the parent company of Arizona Public Service, the largest electric company in the state.

Electric utilities across the state are opposed to Proposition 127, Carlson said.

“We’ll go everywhere and anywhere right now to have this discussion with folks, it’s an important discussion,” Carlson said. “We think this get out the vote is important – no matter how you feel about it, if you don’t vote you have no idea if it’s going to happen the way it should.”

Wallace agreed.

“Every vote will matter in this election,” he said.

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