ASU Professor: Tom Steyer ballot proposal “a scam”

PHOENIX — A professor at Arizona State University is calling the ballot proposal tied to Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer “a scam” that will make the state more dependent on fossil fuels.

Earlier this year, a political group connected to NextGen America — founded by investor-turned-environmentalist Tom Steyer — announced that it would be spearheading a ballot initiative to require the state’s utilities to obtain half of their energy from renewable sources.

But Peter Rez, an Oxford-educated professor in the physics department of Arizona’s largest public university, is now dismissing the initiative as a “scam,” saying that the proposal will actually increase the state’s dependence on fossil fuels.

“The problem with renewables is that they don’t necessarily generate electricity when people want it,” he said in a recent interview with The State Press. “Either one has to have massive amounts of storage or to be backed up by fast-response gas turbines.”

The ballot language submitted to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office has been roundly criticized for, among other things, excluding nuclear energy from the list of clean energy sources that can be applied toward the 50-percent threshold; nuclear energy — considered by many to be a “cleaner” source of electricity as it pertains to carbon dioxide emissions — comprises a significant portion of energy generation in the state’s portfolio.

“So summing it up, this initiative is a scam,” Professor Rez told the newspaper.

Others have made similar arguments. Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, a coalition fighting against the ballot initiative, recently explained that the proposal would have “no impact on the air quality that we see” in Maricopa County and Pima County because there already are no coal plants in those regions.

But residents in the state would still be forced to pay higher electricity costs — in other words: all pain, no gain.

“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,” the affordable energy coalition’s spokesman said.

“Arizona is in a good position … And they’re putting that at risk.”

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