By Michelle De blasi and Chris Davey
To quote Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” This holds true for various issues in Arizona, many of which are related to energy policy. We are at a critical juncture where strong leadership by Arizona’s policymakers will be required to resolve these issues today in such a way that maximizes the benefits to Arizona tomorrow and beyond. The winner of the next gubernatorial race in Arizona will play a key role in determining how we ultimately measure up to this important task.
The leadership displayed through the executive branch sets the tone for policy in other branches of government. For instance, a governor who sets out consistent policy with clear goals and measures for success will help create a more unified political landscape. There have been several recent issues, such as deregulation and net metering, which have highlighted the fact that resolving these issues will require a governor who is able to find and build consensus on controversial issues. There are critical changes being made with respect to the region’s dependence on coal resources due to the EPA’s more stringent regulation of carbon emissions, forcing the utilities and industry stakeholders to take a hard look at what the future will hold for their energy mix.
Finding common ground to resolve these issues is not a simple task, but it must be done to allow Arizona to continue its critical role in the region’s energy market. The West is prime for energy development, in both traditional and renewable technologies, and Arizona is competing for business that will go to other states if the appropriate policies are not in place to be competitive. While the gubernatorial race can be partisan, the policies related to energy development cannot be made in a partisan environment. The next governor will be tasked with implementing an energy plan that works in the real world, and benefits both the providers and users of energy. The next governor will need to focus on creating a better business environment to attract investment and allow projects to be developed, while avoiding an imbalance of equities that can result in an unstable market that thwarts growth instead of encouraging it. The expansion of the energy sector also provides greater diversity and security for the state’s economy that has traditionally depended heavily on real estate development.
While Arizona’s governmental leadership is important, it is also important that those consumers who want to maintain stable electricity rates while expanding and diversifying our energy sector become engaged, attend meetings being held for the candidates, and vote in the primary and general elections.
The Arizona Energy Consortium (AEC), through its Arizona Energy Roadmap and other initiatives, promotes collaboration in the industry for growth and retention of energy companies; promotes economic development initiatives that support the energy industry and continued technological development; provides a credible, member-driven voice for Arizona’s energy industry; and provides meaningful input into the long-term strategic planning for the industry. The success of the AEC’s objectives are influenced by the executive branch of Arizona’s government and can only be fully realized if a clear path is defined by such leadership.
The AEC views the gubernatorial race as extremely important and will continue to act as both a resource and a forum for the candidates to share their messages – both before and after the election. Now more than ever, the new governor will be critical to paving the future of Arizona’s energy sector. Arizona has the opportunity to become an energy hub, but can only achieve this with true leadership. Now is the time to empower the right candidate.
Michelle De Blasi, Gammage & Burnham PLC, and Chris Davey, EnviroMission, are committee co-chairs of the Arizona Energy Consortium. aztechcouncil.org