Guest Column: Petty politics holding up energy efficiency

2012-10-22T00:00:00Z Guest Column: Petty politics holding up energy efficiencyDr. Barbara Warren Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

At first glance, a recent nationwide energy efficiency report shows good news for Arizona.

Our state is ranked No. 12 in the nation by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's 2012 scorecard, and we made the top 10 list for the most-improved states.  

With the nation's No. 2 Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (22 percent improvement in Energy Efficiency by 2020) and the No. 3 set of Appliance Efficiency Standards, it's no wonder Arizona did so well.

Although Arizona makes gains overall, energy efficiency professionals currently consider the Tucson area to be a stagnant backwater.  

This isn't because Tucsonans don't want energy efficiency. We do. But state-level politicians have singled out Tucson and are preventing us from access to important energy efficiency measures that could help save the planet by reducing carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels and stimulate the economy.

With the year nearly over, Tucson Electric Power's energy efficiency programs for 2012 have still not been implemented.

Vital programs to weatherize homes, improve energy efficiency in small businesses, and, most important, provide countless green jobs for Arizonans have been on the back burner of the Arizona Corporation Commission for 20 agonizing months.

In the meantime, a vast array of community stakeholders came together and proposed a compromise plan that would reinstate vital programs and put Tucson's energy efficiency professionals back to work.

In August, a judge approved the plan and ordered that Tucson's energy efficiency programs be reinstated immediately. Despite community support for the plan and a judge's order that it be implemented, the Arizona Corporation Commission continues to avoid holding a vote on the matter.

In the meantime, installers are laid off, green contractors move elsewhere and Tucsonans don't have access to the energy efficiency measures they need, while $18.5 million in potential funding sits idle.

Arizonans are rightfully proud of our high standards for energy efficient homes, businesses and appliances. If we work together, we can meet our state's 2020 goal of saving 22 percent more energy as compared with 2010.

To meet this goal in Tucson, we need to expand our energy efficiency programs, and to do that we need commitment and support from state authorities.

Don't let petty politics at the state level give Tucson the misfortune of becoming a green-jobs black hole.

Tell your legislators, friends and neighbors that Tucson can't afford to wait any longer for the Corporation Commission to make us more efficient and to put green contractors back to work.  

If we don't, Arizona may not look so favorable in next year's energy efficiency report.

Barbara H. Warren is a retired physician and chair of Arizona Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. Email her at Bwarre01@pol.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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