Lea Marquez Peterson, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, wants utilities in the state to use 100% clean energy by 2050.
Clean energy is not the same as renewable energy, which includes electricity generated by wind, solar and hydro power. Clean energy includes all of those things but also nuclear. Some consider natural gas a clean energy because it emits significantly less carbon than coal when burned. Others say natural gas is at best a bridge to clean energy because it is not 100 percent carbon free.
Some utilities have committed to using large percentages of renewable energy by 2030, but Marquez Peterson wants more.
“We need to find a time and place in which our coal plants have been closed, and we know that is estimated in Arizona to be after the year 2040 approximately. We know we are going to be dependent on nuclear energy in the future,” she said
Marquez Peterson said utilities can buy their power from out of state companies. She pointed to Tucson Electric Power, which has increased its solar fields but is also purchasing power from New Mexico.
The year 2050 was picked on purpose by Marquez Peterson.
“I think a date like 2050 is far out enough that it lessens the risk of not hitting the goal if it is too soon and it also lessens the impact for our rate payers,” she explained.
The full Arizona Corporation Commission must approve the proposal.