Arizona Renewables Ballot Initiative Violates Single Subject Rule?

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The Arizona Constitution contains a separate vote requirement provision that applies only to initiated constitutional amendments. This requirement states that multiple amendments must be voted on separately.  Arizona features rules preventing multiple changes to the constitution from being included in one initiated constitutional amendment.

The Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment violates this rule because it addresses two separate items: 1) 50% renewable energy requirement by 2030 and 2) Credit transfer program.   According to the Single Subject Rule, there should be a separate vote requirement for the credit transfer part of the REHAA.  The REHAA initiative has a provision that could 'sever' the Credit Transfer Program from the percentage renewables requirement, but the transfer component is so intricately intertwined with the other part of the initiative that it cannot be severed.  The initiative states:

Section 3. Severability

The People of Arizona declare their intention that the provisions of this Constitutional Amendment is held invalid for any reason, the remaining provisions of this Amendment shall be severed from the void portion and given the fullest possible force and application.

Renewable credits are transferable:

C. Renewable Energy Credits

          3. An owner of a renewable energy credit or distributed renewable energy credit may transfer such credits to another party.

Such a renewables credit transfer authorization basically establishes an alternative for meeting the annual renewable energy resources requirement.  There isn't much guidance in the transfer clause so there could be wide interpretations as to how participants can meet their annual renewable energy requirements.  The bottom line is that the credit provision appears to violate the Single Subject Rule.

In fact, participating utilities are required to use the credit system:

Section D. Annual Renewable Energy Requirement

          1. Each affected utility shall be required to satisfy an annual renewable      energy requirement by obtaining renewable energy credits from eligible renewable energy resources.

In fact, the credit transfer program is in direct competition with other credit trading programs:

D. Annual Renewable Energy Requirement

3.  An affected utility that trades or sells environmental pollution reduction credits or any other environmental attributes associated with KWH produced by an eligible renewable energy resource may not apply renewable energy credits derived from that same KWH to satisfy the requirements in this section.

The initiative clearly recognizes the transfer as being similar to Cap and Trade programs.  The important point is that it is a separate issue item that violates the Single Subject Rule.

This requirement clearly weds the credit trasfer portion of the initiative so closely to the 50% provision that it cannot be separated out via the severability section.  This conflict renders the ballot initiative null and void and the Secretary of State or the Attorney General should remove it from the November ballot.  (Ballotpedia)

Arizona House Bill 2005

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House Bill 2005 (HB 2005) was designed to make violations of the Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment a civil penalty, meaning electric utilities that violate the standard would be fined between $100 to $5,000.

On March 21, 2018, the Arizona State Senate passed the bill 16-12.

On March 22, 2018, the Arizona House of Representatives approved the bill 34-24.

Governor Doug Ducey (R) signed the bill on March 23, 2018.

The measure would require electric utilities that sell electricity in Arizona to acquire electricity from a certain percentage of renewable resources each year. The amount would increase each year from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030 and each year thereafter.

The measure would define renewable energy to include solar, wind, biomass, certain hydropower, geothermal, and landfill gas energies.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona reported filing 480,464 signatures on July 5, 2018. At least 225,963 (47.03 percent) of the filed signatures need to be valid for the initiative to make the ballot.  (Ballotpedia)

Note: If the cost of noncompliance is cheaper than the cost of compliance, entities will pay the fines.    

Tom Steyer Gets Signatures For Renewables Ballot Initiative

OPPOSE THIS INITIATIVE.  IT WILL LEAD TO ADDITIONAL AIR POLLUTION

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The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona (CEHA) campaign filed 480,464 signatures at the Arizona Capitol to qualify for a ballot initiative [Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment] that seeks to amend the Arizona Constitution to boost the state's renewable energy standard.  CEHA submitted more than double the required signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office to place the measure on this November's ballot.  Arizona law required 226,000 valid signatures for the initiative to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

The initiative would require utility companies to get 50 percent of renewable resources such as wind and solar for electricity by 2030.  The Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utility companies, currently requires utility companies to use 15 percent renewable energy by 2025. It is a standard set in 2006.

The clean energy initiative is one of three initiatives bankrolled by California billionaire Tom Steyer through his NextGen Climate Action group. Similar initiatives are being pushed in Nevada and Michigan.

The Arizona Public Service Company and the Arizonans for Affordable Electricity oppose the ballot initiative.  EHJ also opposes the initiative because it will lead to the closure of Palo Verde nuclear power plant.  (Phoenix Business Journal,  7/5/2018)

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station Wastewater Cooling System

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Stations sits 45 miles west of Phoenix.  It is the largest power plant in the country, and the desert facility uses something no other nuclear power plant in the world does: wastewater.  Wastewater from Phoenix’s 91st Avenue wastewater treatment facility and Tolleson’s facility is piped to the nuclear facility underground -- essentially in one giant 36.5-mile pipe -- for use in Palo Verde's cooling towers.

The wastewater moves through the first 28.5 miles of the pipe by gravity alone; it's pumped the remaining 8 miles to Palo Verde. Once on-site at the APS-operated facility, the water is purified again.

Next, the water is channeled into reservoirs at the facility for temporary storage before it is used in the cooling towers near Palo Verde's three reactors. The plant needs 60,000 gallons of treated wastewater per minute.  The plant’s three nuclear reactors each require 20,000 gallons of water per minute.

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Plant managers have to maintain a constant flow of wastewater to the on-site reservoirs to make up for water lost to evaporation.

Seven Southwestern companies own the plant.  Its largest stakeholder is Arizona Public Services (29.1%), but it is also owned by Salt River Project, El Paso Electric, Southern California Edison, Public Service Co. of New Mexico, Southern California Public Power Authority, and L. A. Dept. of Water & Power.

The plant, in commercial operation since 1986, produces power for about 4.1 million people across regions in New Mexico, Texas, California and Arizona.  Each of the turbines within the reactors generates 1,400 megawatts of power.

Palo Verde supplies 80 percent of Arizona's carbon-free electricity.  Only 1.3 percent of the APS energy portfolio came from renewable energy in 2014, while 27.2 percent came from nuclear. Coal leads all sources with 33.5 percent, according to the plant's owner.

If the wastewater supply were to be suddenly cut off, Palo Verde keeps more than a 13-day supply of water in its reservoirs, designed to give facility staff enough time to fix any issue.

According to Nuclear Engineering International: 

Fresh water in the Phoenix, Arizona area comes from the Verde, Salt and Colorado rivers. After it is used by the two million people living in the area, it reaches the 91st Street water treatment plant in Phoenix. This plant, built before Palo Verde but expanded several times since then, actually serves four areas in the metropolitan Phoenix area: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe and Glendale, although the city of Phoenix owns more than 50%. Its rated capacity is 204 million gallons/day, but its operational amount is 130-150 million gallons/day. Another treatment plant nearby, capacity 17 million gallons/day, serves the city of Tolleson. Both plants carry out primary and secondary water treatment: primary sludge settling and separation, and degradation of the biological constituents of sewage.

Normally, wastewater treatment plants pump the treated effluent back into a river. At this plant, a 114-in (3m)-diameter pipe diverts up to 90,000 million gallons/day toward Palo Verde; another pipe also takes up to 6 million gallons/day from Tolleson. (Other effluent streams go to irrigation in Buckeye, Arizona, and an artificial wetlands area next door, and the Salt and Gila Rivers). The utility consortium that owns the three-unit Palo Verde Generating Station buys the water from the city; it is authorized to take up to 24 billion gallons/year, or an average of 65 million gallons/day, but uses more like 21-22 billion gallons/year (and up to 2.2 billion gallons/year from Tolleson). It pays based on a unit of an acre-foot, 326,000 gallons/year or 1233.5 m3, in a price that is escalated per year.

Water flows 100 ft downhill inside the buried pipeline for about 28 miles (6 miles at 114 in diameter pipe, 22.5 miles at 96 in diameter pipe) until it reaches the Hassayampa Pumping Station, which pushes it 125 ft uphill the remaining eight miles to the site treatment plant in a 66 in-diameter pipe.

(AZFamily, Tucson.com, 1/1/2016, Nuclear Engineering International, 6/25/2013)

Report on NOx Reductions Via Nuclear Power Plants

The Brattle Group

Nuclear Impact on NOX Emissions in
Designated EPA Ozone Nonattainment Areas

Dean Murphy and Mark Berkman

May 2018

FULL REPORT

The EPA’s recent release of ozone air quality designations augmented its previous designations, filling gaps in the identification of regions that are in nonattainment for EPA’s 2015 ozone NAAQS standards.[1]  The air quality improvements that this shows are necessary highlight the role that existing nuclear power plants play in air quality.  Simply put, nuclear plants avoid air pollutants associated with fossil generation.  The loss of nuclear generation increases emissions as fossil generators operate more to fill the gap.  We identified and quantified this effect in several previous studies that examined the environmental impacts of nuclear plants in Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  These studies showed that the loss of zero-emission nuclear generation would result in increased fossil generation and thus increased emissions of several pollutants, including NOX, which is both a pollutant in its own right and a precursor for ozone.  Some of the NOX increases would occur within ozone nonattainment areas, just when states must develop plans to decrease pollutant concentrations in those areas.  The loss of nuclear plants would increase the challenge and the cost of bringing nonattainment areas into compliance with air quality standards.

[1]     Additional Air Quality Designations for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), April 30, 2018.  https://www.epa.gov/ozone-designations/additional-designations-2015-ozone-standards

Palo Verde and Environmental Justice

 Palo Verde

Palo Verde

The closure of Palo Verde nuclear power plant would represent an environmental injustice because it will be replaced with mostly fossil fuel-generated electricity, which will increase smog that will increase negative health effects in minority and low-income communities. Environmental Hope and Justice (EHJ) believes the passage of a state initiative to support traditional renewable energy sources would not only lead to the closure of the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, but would also cause a state constitutional crisis. Such a state initiative would directly conflict with the State Implementation Plan (SIP).

The Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment could appear on the ballot in Arizona as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018 if proponents can get 225,963 valid signatures by July 5, 2018. The measure would require electric utilities that sell electricity in Arizona to acquire 50 percent of electricity from renewable resources in 2030 and each year thereafter. 

Within the Maricopa nonattainment area, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard has not yet been attained for the 2008 eight-hour ozone standard of 0.075 parts per million (ppm). The 2015 eight-hour ozone standard is 0.070 ppm. The area is classified as a Moderate Area under the Clean Air Act. If the Arizona Renewable Energy Standards Initiative passes, it will trigger a constitutional crisis. It will pit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) against each other. A state initiative that closes what is a significant ozone control measure (operation of emission-free Palo Verde) would usurp the power of the state agencies in charge of regulating the Clean Air Act at the state level with a measure that runs directly counter to its mission.

MAG has not included the environmental justice consequences of closing Palo Verde due to the passage of the ARESI. Considering the constitutional crisis the passage of ARESI would cause and considering the fact that environmental justice related to Palo Verde closure have not been included in the SIP, the Arizona State Attorney General or the Arizona Secretary of State should remove the initiative from the ballot until these matters have been resolved.

FULL REPORT

Potential Impacts on Phoenix Area Ozone Air Quality from a Proposed Renewable Energy Ballot Initiative - - by NERA Economic Consulting

 

Constitutional Crisis: Arizona Residential Energy Standards Initiative

 Front cover of the Arizona Constitution adopted in 1891

Front cover of the Arizona Constitution adopted in 1891

If the Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment (REHAA) passes, it will pit the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) against each other.  Although MAG completes SIP revisions for their respective counties and ADEQ submits them to EPA, the state constitutional crisis is activated when the ACC usurps their authority by implementing the REHAA.

The REHAA could appear on the ballot in Arizona as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018 if proponents can get 225,963 valid signatures by July 5, 2018. The ballot initiative was filed with the secretary of state on February 20, 2018 and if approved, Arizona Public Service (APS) says it will create negative market conditions that will force them to close the Palo Verde nuclear plant. 

The measure would require electric utilities that sell electricity in Arizona to acquire electricity from a certain percentage of renewable resources each year. The amount would increase each year from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030 and each year thereafter.  The measure would define renewable energy to include solar, wind, biomass, certain hydropower, geothermal, and landfill gas energies.  In reality, replacement power for Palo Verde will predominately come from natural gas-fired baseload electricity production. Thus, there will be additional nitrogen dioxide emissions, increased ozone and smog production and more Clean Air Act violations. 

It is common knowledge that APS will close Palo Verde if ARESI passes.   MAG will be forced to complete a SIP that cannot meet the EPA requirements under the Clean Air Act for ozone attainment.  The ADEQ will be forced to submit a SIP that cannot meet the EPA requirements.  EPA might have to take over the program, as is allowed under the law.  EPA does not have any authority to force Palo Verde to stay open. Nuclear power plants are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).  Thus, this constitutional alteration will throw the state clean air program into chaos.

A state initiative that closes what is a significant ozone control measure (operation of emission-free Palo Verde) would usurp the power of the state agencies in charge of regulating the Clean Air Act at the state level with a measure that runs directly counter to its mission. The façade of putting the measure to the voters is disingenuous because informed proponents know they are bypassing the established channels for regulating the Clean Air Act at the state level.  The Arizona Corporation Commission is in no way authorized or capable of managing or regulating CAA goals.  Yet the passage of the ARESI will put ACC in charge of meeting the requirements of the CAA.

MAG would also be placed in the position of writing a SIP that it knows would not work. No state agency should engage in any activity that promotes the addition of one pound of an EPA Criteria Pollutant.[1] This is because state agencies should be promoting measures that reduce air pollutants, particularly pollutants in which they are in noncompliance.  The measure would be usurping the regulatory powers of DEQ and MAG and would automatically force them to work against their own missions.

Passage of the Arizona Renewable Energy Standards Initiative will create a constitutional crisis.  It will unnecessarily pit state agencies against each other.  It will trigger such a constitutional crisis by creating an obstacle to the state’s achieving attainment of the Clean Air Act rules.  The initiative should be voided by vote or fiat.

[1] Criteria Pollutant: The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) NAAQS are currently set for carbon monoxide, lead, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide (six common air pollutants also known as Criteria Air Pollutants).

No Money In Supporting Nuclear Power For Environmentalists

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PRESIDENT'S CORNER

By Norris McDonald

It was refreshing to see the New York Post article about a recent paper by Matthew C. Nisbet, a communications professor at Northeastern University, that examined the climate-change and energy grants given by 19 green-leaning philanthropies — including familiar names like the Hewlett, Kresge and MacArthur foundations.  His conclusion: America’s biggest environmental groups seldom, if ever, talk about the climate-change benefits of nuclear energy. Why not? There’s no money in it. 

As the first environmentalist to publicly and aggressively support nuclear power in the climate change and global warming era, I can testify that Professor Nisbet's conclusion is absolute true.  I have been working as a pro-nuclear environmental activist for 18 years and I can barely pay my rent.  I also seriously doubt that my recommendation to the nuclear industry to start funding the environmental groups to support nuclear power will be adopted because they probably are not willing to put up the tens  to hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to get them to acknowledge the obvious: that nuclear power is the best weapon against global warming.

Here are some of the findings from his paper:

Between 2011 and 2015, the 19 foundations made 2,502 grants totaling nearly $557 million to environmental groups like the Sierra Club (the largest single recipient, with nearly $49 million in grants), Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund.

Of that $557 million, the big environmental groups received nearly $187 million to promote renewable energy and efficiency. They got another $92.5 million for “climate change-related communication, media and mobilization” and nearly $82 million to oppose hydraulic fracturing and to “promote actions to limit/oppose [the] fossil fuel industry.” But “no grants were focused on promoting nuclear energy, though $175,000 in grants were devoted to opposing nuclear energy for cost and safety reasons.”

To underscore: Over a five-year period, some of America’s biggest foundations doled out more than half a billion dollars to some of America’s biggest environmental groups and not a penny was spent promoting nuclear energy, even though nuclear provides about 20 percent of US electricity and twice as much emissions-free juice as all US solar and wind, combined.

Why would any of the large environmental groups risk losing many millions of dollars to support correct science as it relates to nuclear power and global warming?  Nisbet’s paper is important because it exposes the anti-nuclear orthodoxy that prevails at some of America’s biggest philanthropic groups. Just as important, it shows that those same philanthropic groups are ignoring the conclusions of the world’s top climate scientists.

No on Arizona Renewable Energy Standards Initiative (2018)

The Renewable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment (REHAA) could appear on the ballot in Arizona as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018 if proponents can get 225,963 valid signatures by July 5, 2018. The ballot initiative was filed with the secretary of state on February 20, 2018.  Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona and billionaire activist Tom Steyer of California are leading the campaign in support of the initiative.  DO NOT SUPPORT THE BALLOT INITIATIVE.  

EHJ opposes the initiative because it represents an environmental injustice to many of the vulnerable residents of Arizona.  It represents an environmental injustice because if the initiative passes and the Palo Verde nuclear power plant closes, it will be replaced with mostly fossil fuel-generated electricity, which will increase smog that will increase negative health  effects in minority and low-income communities.  Electricity bills will also increase, which will be a significant burden on vulnerable communities.

 Palo Verde nuclear power plant.  Fifty miles west of Phoenix.  Three units at Palo Verde create about 36 percent of Arizona's electricity

Palo Verde nuclear power plant.  Fifty miles west of Phoenix.  Three units at Palo Verde create about 36 percent of Arizona's electricity

The measure would require electric utilities that sell electricity in Arizona to acquire electricity from a certain percentage of renewable resources each year. The amount would increase each year from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030 and each year thereafter.  The measure would define renewable energy to include solar, wind, biomass, certain hydropower, geothermal, and landfill gas energies.

If the secretary of state certifies that enough valid signatures were submitted, the initiative is put on the next general election ballot. The secretary of state verifies the signatures through a random sampling of 5 percent of submitted signatures working in collaboration with county recorders. If the random sampling indicates that valid signatures equal to between 95 percent and 105 percent of the required number were submitted, a full check of all signatures is required. If the random sampling shows fewer signatures, the petition fails. If the random sampling shows more, the initiative is certified for the ballot. (Ballotpedia)

President Trump Invokes National Security To Save Nuclear Power Plants

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President Donald Trump ordered his Energy Secretary Rick Perry to take immediate action to stem power plant closures, arguing that a decline in coal and nuclear electricity is putting the nation’s security at risk.  Impending retirements of fuel-secure power facilities are leading to a rapid depletion of a critical part of our nation’s energy mix and impacting the resilience of our power grid.   EHJ supports President Trump's order and we look forward to promoting Energy Secretary Rick Perry's recommendations.

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Under the Energy Department’s draft plan, the administration would take action under two laws: the Federal Power Act that allows the government to guarantee profits for power plants amid grid emergencies, and the 68-year-old Defense Production Act, a Cold War-era statute once invoked by President Harry Truman to help the steel industry.

For two years, the Energy Department would direct the purchase of power or electric generation capacity from a designated list of facilities “to forestall any future actions toward retirement, decommissioning or deactivation,” according to the memo. The proposed Energy Department directive also would tell some of those facilities to continue generating and delivering electric power according to their existing or recent contracts with utilities.

It’s not clear that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would go along with the plan. Although the administration could aim to bypass the electric regulators completely, FERC could play a role in any effort to require grid operators to make out-of-market payments to electric generators.

Trump’s directive comes as administration officials search for ways to extend the life of money-losing coal and nuclear power plants that face competition from cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. The plants are considered “fuel-secure” because they house coal and nuclear material on site and are not dependent on pipelines that can be disrupted, wind that stops blowing or a sun that sets.

The department’s strategy, outlined in a memo that would use authority granted under a pair of federal laws to establish a “strategic electric generation reserve” and compel grid operators to buy electricity from at-risk plants. The steps are necessary to protect national security.

The move comes as Trump uses similar national security arguments to justify market interventions aimed at protecting other treasured political constituencies -- steelworkers and automakers -- at the expense of U.S. allies.

A FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary requested immediate intervention from Perry’s agency in late March, after the Ohio-based company announced it would shut three nuclear power plants feeding the nation’s largest grid, operated by PJM Interconnection LLC.

Some 12,000 megawatts of coal-fired power are expected to retire this year, according to the National Mining Association.  (Bloomberg, 6/1/2018)