Arizona proposition 127, dubbed “The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” has qualified for inclusion on the November ballot although it is still being challenged in court. If this amendment to the Arizona Constitution actually reaches the ballot it would, if passed, require affected electric utilities to provide at least 50% of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. The amendment defines renewable energy sources to include solar, wind, small-scale hydropower, and other sources that are replaced rapidly by a natural, ongoing process (excluding nuclear or fossil fuel). Distributed renewable energy sources, like rooftop solar, must comprise at least 10% of utilities’ annual retail sales of electricity by 2030. The Amendment allows electric utilities to earn and trade credits to meet these requirements. (Read full text)
Arizona currently produces half of its renewable energy from hydropower created by the large dams on the Colorado River, but, according to the proposed amendment, this electricity is not counted in the 50% mandate. According to the Energy Information Administration, power plants in Arizona generate more electricity than the state consumes, and Arizona generating stations supply electricity to consumers throughout the southwest.
In my opinion, this amendment is very bad policy. It is stupid, dangerous, and expensive. In the following summary I explain. More background is available in the references at the end of this post.
The push toward renewable energy, especially wind and solar generation, is based on a false premise: the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are a significant cause of global warming, and that global warming is dangerous. Utility scale wind and solar installations would not exist were it not based on this false assumption, mandates, and subsidies.
This claim is not based on physical evidence but only upon garbage-in, garbage-out computer models, the results of which diverge widely from observations. I have asked several university climate scientists who support the claim to cite supporting physical evidence. Although they are alleged experts in the field, they could not cite any physical evidence. On the other hand there are several lines of physical evidence that show carbon dioxide emissions do not enhance the dread greenhouse effect. (See references 1, 2, 3 & 4)
Utility scale wind and solar installations require vast expanses of land that affect local habitats. Wind turbines chop up birds and bats, including endangered species. Solar installations burn up birds and other flying animals. Low frequency sound from wind turbines causes a variety of human ailments. The manufacturing and disposal of solar panels put dangerous chemicals into the environment. For example, many PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels.
A new study shows that solar modules cause more greenhouse gas emissions than modern coal power plants. It turns out that because of the emissions of extraordinarily potent greenhouse gases nitrogen trifluoride and sulfur hexafluoride and energy requirements of manufacturing solar modules, solar energy ends up being worse for the climate than burning coal (assuming the greenhouse global warming hypothesis is valid). (See references 5 & 6)
Electricity produce by wind and solar turns out to be much more expensive than electricity produced from coal and natural gas. That is mainly because wind and solar are unreliable, they can’t respond to demand. Therefore they need nuclear or fossil fuel generated electricity as backup which causes the fossil fuel plants to run inefficiently which produces more carbon dioxide.
Europe has been a world leader in using wind and solar energy. The price, however, is high. The more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. In some European countries electricity prices are triple the average cost in the U.S. Ironically, carbon dioxide emissions in those countries are rising while in the U.S. emissions are decreasing. Also ironically, according to the New York Times, renewables are helping to push nuclear power, the main source of zero-carbon electricity in the United States, into bankruptcy.
Generating more electricity from solar and wind is just a very expensive exercise in political correctness that will have little impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but a big impact on your wallet and an adverse impact on electric grid stability and the environment.