Arizona Democrats are vying to wrest control of the state utility board so they can expand the use of solar energy in the nation’s sunniest state.
Democrats running for the Arizona Corporation Commission are promising to expand use of rooftop panels and large-scale solar power plants in the state, the nation’s No. 3 generator of energy from the sun. Republicans, who hold three of the panel’s five seats, say they are concerned that could raise power rates.
At issue is a 2006 commission order that utilities get 15 percent of their power by 2025 from renewable sources such as solar and wind. Arizona Public Service Co., the state’s biggest utility, and Tucson Electric Power Co., are on a path to reach the goal ahead of schedule, erasing their incentive for further investments in solar, said Amanda Ormond, principal of an energy consulting firm in Tempe, Arizona, and former director of the state energy office.