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If you are a landowner in Arizona, you may soon be approached by solar developers—if you haven’t been already. After all, the future of Arizona’s energy landscape recently took some twists and turns. But it looks like utilities will want to establish power purchase agreements on large-scale solar farms going forward to meet newly enacted energy mandates.

First, Regulators Rejected a Clean Energy Plan

In a surprise vote highlighted in PV Magazine, the Arizona Corporation Commission rejected new standards that would have led to 100% renewable energy use in the next three decades. The plan, which had been in the works for three years, ran afoul when an amendment turned some required mandates into nonbinding goals. This change lost the support of two Democrats on the panel, flipping the vote from 4-1 in favor as of November 2020 to 2-3 opposed in May 2021.

When the vote failed, Arizona defaulted to its previous standards established in 2006, which called for 15% of utility electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2025. The down-voted regulation would have required 50% of power to come from solar, wind, or other clean sources by 2035 and 100% by 2050.

Then, They Reversed Course

A special open meeting was held on May 26, 2021, just a few weeks after Arizona regulators rejected the rules on May 5. This time, the regulation passed with a 3-2 vote. The latest rules eliminated the contentious amendment, restoring the 100% carbon-free standards as mandates but extending the compliance date to 2070—20 years later than initially proposed.

Some of Arizona’s largest utilities, which have ambitious goals of their own, supported the clean-energy mandates in the original proposal.

  • Arizona Public Service (APS) announced that it plans to end the use of coal-fired power plants by 2031 and get 100% of its power from non-carbon emitting sources by 2050.
  • Tucson Electric Power (TEP) said that it will retire coal plants by 2032 and source at least 70% of its power from solar and wind by 2035.
  • Non-regulated Salt River Project (SRP) declared plans to more than double its utility-scale solar commitment originally announced in 2018, adding 2,025 megawatts (MW) of new solar panels to its power system by the end of 2025.

The Arizona Corporation Commission’s change of heart is a welcome reversal, one that will help Arizona get back on track and reap the benefits of a clean-energy future.

How Arizona’s Energy Goals Could Affect Landowners

To help them accomplish their goals, utility providers plan to invite landowners to add utility-scale solar farms to their properties. If a solar developer approaches you, it’s your decision whether or not to move forward. Choosing the right developer is just as important as deciding if you want to contribute to utility-scale solar development in Arizona. You don’t want to waste years under contract with a developer ill-equipped for success in the market.

At NLR Solar, our team is well-versed in solar development projects. Not all developers are equal, and we know the pros and cons of different types and ultimately which ones we believe give you the best chance at seeing a project to construction.

We would be happy to help you navigate the process, ensuring you partner with the best developer for the job. Contact us today for a free evaluation.


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