Eliminating incentives to save energy is a costly mistake. Particularly now.
Arizonans are suffering record temperatures and thousands are looking for work. Efficiency helps alleviate both. Yet, the Corporation Commission is considering a new Energy Rule that omits the Energy Efficiency (EE) Standard thereby eliminating the incentives.
Fortunately for Scottsdale residents, the city’s energy manager took time to read the rule, noted the omission, and alerted the City Council and city manager.
Mayor Jim Lane called a special council meeting and Council voted (6-1) to submit a letter in support of amending the Energy Rule to include the EE Standard.
This matters. Energy efficiency is the workhorse that protects our planet and our pocketbook. Energy efficiency is the cleanest and cheapest power source available.
An efficient home or building keeps cool air inside, hot air outside, and reduces a/c usage, which lowers power bills and extends the life of air conditioners.
Since 2011, APS has been required to offer efficiency incentives which has translated into lower power bill options for ratepayers.
National data shows that people who live in the five least-efficient states have seen electric bills increase twice as much as those living in five most-efficient states.
In anticipation of the new rule, APS already took steps to reduce the incentives by requesting that the Corporation Commission allow APS “to reduce incentives” with a mere 30-day notice. This would translate into higher bills for APS customers including the City of Scottsdale.
Maintaining the EE standard also protects and may expand quality job opportunities. Achieving tighter homes and buildings requires skilled labor and these jobs can’t be exported.
Nationally, it is estimated that 1 in 6 construction jobs is tied to energy efficiency. Important work opportunities in good times and especially valuable during hard times.
More efficient homes will improve Scottsdale’s climate. A large percentage of urban heat is created by energy consumption. When an air conditioner is running, for instance, it is producing heat which raises outdoor temperatures.
New windows or insulation in the attic will reduce the time that the a/c is running, which equates to less heat produced.
Incentives are important for the city’s budget, too.
The City of Scottsdale manages an array of energy consuming facilities and is one of APS’s largest customers. There are a number of energy rebates that the city relies on that are at risk if the EE Standard is allowed to sunset at the end of 2020.
Protecting these incentives enables the city to make choices based on Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) versus upfront costs and that benefits tax payers.
Incentivizing energy efficiency is, simply put, sound policy.
I am pleased that the City of Scottsdale took a leadership role to protect ratepayers and urban climate throughout Arizona.
Editor’s Note: Solange Whitehead is a Scottsdale City Council member.