Arizona PIRG Education Fund
Building an Energy-Efficient Arizona: Opportunities to Save Money and Reduce Pollution
Arizona is at an energy crossroad—with a dirty past and the chance for a clean energy future.
Arizona has seen its population grow at a rate of 3.3% per year on average from 2000-2006. Utilities in Arizona have forecasted that electricity demand will grow about 3.5% per year, compared to 2% for the nation. Peak demand for electricity doubled in 15 years between 1990 and 2005, from 8,000 MW to 16,000 MW; and is forecasted to double over the next twenty years, 2006-2025, from 16,000 MW to 32,000 MW. The increased peak demand for electricity is projected to require an additional 16,000 MW of resources, equivalent to approximately 32 large power plants.
The majority of energy sources Arizona uses today wreaks havoc on household budgets across the state, contributes to air pollution, and consumes scarce water resources. Residential electricity prices increased 9.8 percent from May 2007 to May 2008. Over a majority (70 percent) of electricity used in Arizona comes from coal-fired and natural gas-fired power plants. In addition, the natural gas burned in Arizona’s power plants is imported from other states, which results in Arizona spending nearly a billion dollars a year to import out-of state energy resources rather than supporting local jobs and businesses.
The cleanest, cheapest and fastest way to reduce the use of dirty and dangerous energy sources is to use energy more wisely by improving efficiency. To meet the growing energy demands of the future at a price we can afford, the Arizona Corporation Commission and the Arizona state legislature must ensure that utilities establish and implement strong energy efficiency programs.
For guidance on how to move toward that new goal, Arizona can look to states across the country that have adopted strategies to increase energy efficiency. These programs help to reduce energy use while delivering financial savings for citizens, businesses and institutions. Arizona deserves nothing less.