PHOENIX — An affordable energy coalition Thursday slammed the ballot proposal tied to Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer as a “feel-good measure” that will put Arizona’s electricity grid “at risk.”
A spokesman for the coalition, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, appeared on Arizona PBS’s “Arizona Horizon” Thursday evening to discuss the ballot initiative, which would force the state’s utilities to source half of their energy from “renewables” by 2030.
“We know that, if this is adopted into the Arizona Constitution, it’s going to double the cost of the utility bill for the average Arizona family,” Matthew Benson, the spokesman, said.
Click HERE To Watch The Interview.
That means the average household would pay about $1,000 more per year as a result of the energy tax, he explained, calling it an especially “significant cost” to low- and fixed-income families.
The group behind the ballot proposal is tied to NextGen America, a political organization founded by California Democrat Tom Steyer, the single largest political donor of the 2016 election cycle. Steyer himself is estimated to have spent at least $87 million during that cycle and currently is spearheading a $20 million ad campaign to impeach President Donald Trump.
NextGen Climate Action, the group’s super PAC affiliate, spent more than $29 million in additional funds over the past two cycles with the aim of defeating Republicans.
A spokesman for the Steyer-tied group behind the energy tax cited the “asthma epidemic” as its motivation in February, telling Capitol Media Services that the state has to “get cleaner air to make a dent in that number of asthma sufferers.”
But the affordable electricity coalition was quick to point out that Arizona’s two largest counties aren’t coal producers.
“There’s not a single coal plant in Maricopa County,” Benson said during Thursday’s appearance. “There’s not a coal plant in Pima County … This initiative is going to have no impact on the air quality that we see here in Phoenix or in Tucson. That’s just a fact.”
The text of the ballot initiative, filed with the Secretary of State’s office on February 20, has been criticized for excluding nuclear energy from its 50-percent renewable standard.
Nuclear energy provided about one-third of Arizona’s net energy generation in 2016, according to the United States Energy Information Administration, and the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Maricopa County is the largest nuclear power plant in the country, giving the state a competitive advantage over others in the mountain region.
“Arizona is in a good position,” Benson said Thursday. “We have a strong power system. We have affordable, reliability electricity. And they’re putting that at risk.”