Anyone watching television lately has no doubt seen numerous commercials — both pro and con — on the Arizona ballot propositions.
On behalf of the City of Globe, City Manager Paul Jepson made a presentation on some ballot measures at the city council’s Sept. 25 regular meeting.
He began by talking about Prop. 126, otherwise known as the “Protect Arizona Taxpayers Act,” which, if approved during the Nov. 6 election, would create a ban on taxing services.
However, the lengthier presentation was on Prop. 127, also known as the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Act.”
After presentations by both Jepson and Arizona Public Service (APS) Community Affairs Manager Richard Rosales, Globe Mayor Al Gameros asked city staff to draft a possible resolution against Prop. 127 and bring it back to council at the next meeting.
At the Oct. 9 regular city council meeting, Jepson said he wanted to discuss “how the council can and cannot support a political measure.”
He said that while “each individual council member” could vote against the proposition, “as a body,” the council could not do so.
According to State law, the council can’t spend public money or resources on influencing the vote on items such as ballot measures and bond elections, Jepson said.
The city had been “approached by APS about allowing them the time to educate us,” calling it the tack APS is taking to “educate cities” about Prop. 127, he said.
While “everything we have done has been appropriate,” it would be too “close to the line” for the council to approve anything opposing Prop. 127, Jepson said.
He also invited those with information from opposing points of view to address the council, as well.
Ultimately, the council voted unanimously to table the agenda item.
Jepson told the Silver Belt later that the council would not be bringing back a resolution.
At its June 19 meeting, the Gila County Board of Supervisors had approved a resolution to “join with other counties to oppose the “NextGen Climate Action” Ballot Initiative.
During his presentation at the Sept. 25 meeting, Jepson said that, if approved during the Nov. 6 election, Prop. 127 would require utility companies selling electricity in Arizona to obtain “a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources each year,” increasing annually from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030.
Prop. 127 supporters claim solar and wind power is cheaper than fossil fuels, and “in a side-by-side comparison, that’s true,” he told the council. “But that’s not taking into consideration capital construction costs and using fossil fuels to fill in the gaps.”
Supporters also claim Prop. 127 will save $4 billion over 20 years, and also create reliable energy, create good-paying jobs and clean the environment, Jepson said.
However, opponents say Prop. 127 would make energy prices double, as power companies would have to pay the cost of creating 50 percent more brand-new infrastructure, he said.
In essence, power companies would have to maintain two power systems to keep up with demand, Jepson said.
“Solar power is reliable until a cloudy day or nightfall,” he told the council. “Wind power is reliable until the wind stops blowing.”
Prop. 127 would also take away the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC)’s ability to protect the consumer in lieu of the 50 percent goal, Jepson said.
“Supporters say that the benefit is cheap energy, but the primary outcome is more wind and solar, regardless of cost,” he said. “Additional regulations always cost money.”
As for its potential harm to Globe, Jepson said Prop. 127 would raise the cost of Arizona Public Service (APS)’ power to the City of Globe, as well as double the monthly electricity bill for Globe residents, especially hurting those on fixed incomes.
“If the power costs more, that means less money for groceries,” he told the council.
Prop. 127 would also harm teachers, as Globe schools would have to pay more for power, “cutting into teacher salaries,” Jepson said.
Increased energy costs for Globe businesses would “cause prices to rise,” resulting in lower wages as well as costing people their jobs, he said.
Following Jepson’s presentation, Rosales also addressed the council.
He said Prop. 127 would change Arizona’s constitution, mandating that electric utilities, such as APS, get half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
“On the surface, that sounds like an admirable goal,” Rosales said. “In reality, Prop. 127 is deeply flawed, and would do long-term harm to Arizona, electricity consumers and our economy.”
Since Prop. 127 would become part of the state’s constitution, fixing this bad policy would be very difficult, he said.
The proposition was drafted “with no public input by a California billionaire with no stake in Arizona’s future,” Rosales said. “Maybe he wants to make Arizona less competitive.”
Ironically, APS is fighting Prop. 127, though the company would profit more from its approval, he told the council.
“That’s because APS doesn’t want to support something that will bring us short term gains while making Arizona less competitive in the long run,” Rosales said.
“Like most Arizonans, I want our state to continue moving toward a cleaner energy future,” he said. “But let’s work together to get there responsibly — without sacrificing affordability or doing long-term harm to our state.”
If approved, Prop. 127 would send electric bills sky high, forcing electric utilities like APS to spend billions of dollars on costly new infrastructure, Rosales said.
“The burden for paying for these forced investments would fall on energy consumers, doubling their monthly electric bills,” and hitting “customers with limited and fixed incomes especially hard,” he told the council.
He went on to talk about the Palo Verde Generating Station, which Rosales called something “very dear to Lerry’s (Councilman Alderman’s) heart.”
Prop. 127 would “likely force the closure of several operational power plants, putting Palo Verde’s future “at considerable risk,” Rosales said.
“It might shut Palo Verde down,” he told the council.
Rosales called it “especially troubling, because not only does Palo Verde provide 3,000 quality jobs for Arizona families, it is also the nation’s largest source of clean, carbon-free electricity.”
“Palo Verde is a key cog in Arizona’s economic engine, contributing $2 billion to our state’s economy each year, and is Arizona’s largest single taxpayer,” he said.
Calling APS “the largest taxpayer in Arizona,” Rosales said, “schools around the state would get hit.”
“Prop. 127 would put the brakes on Arizona’s economic growth and reduce the money going to Arizona classrooms,” he said. “The proposition would weaken Arizona's economic competitiveness by more than doubling commercial and industrial energy costs.”
It would also harm Arizona’s schools by “dramatically increasing their electric bills,” Rosales said.
“We don’t need California politics coming into Arizona,” he told the council. “We want the public to be aware.”
Calling California’s renewable energy mandates “aggressive,” Rosales said they are still not “nearly as stringent as those mandated by Prop, 127.”
The California mandates have led to electric rates Rosales described as “dramatically higher” than those in Arizona.
“We would like everyone to vote ‘No’ on Prop. 127,” Rosales said.
Councilman Freddy Rios asked about Prop. 127 taking away the ACC’s “ability to protect consumers in Arizona,” to which Rosales replied, “Yes, it would circumvent that whole process that Arizona has.”
Rosales pointed out that Prop. 127 ballot language says, “…irrespective of costs to consumers…”
Referring to the opposition’s comments on clean air, Rosales said, “They don’t they talk about SRP (Salt River Project), which is the second largest utility in Arizona,” and operates coal plants.
“And, after all the expense, the lost jobs, the harm to businesses and schools, the sad fact is that Prop. 127 will do little to nothing to reduce Arizona’s air pollution – nearly all of which comes from automobile emissions and blowing dust,” he said.
Alderman said, “I commend APS and yourself for standing up for our citizens. It makes me proud to be a retiree of APS.”
Talking about Prop. 126 during the Sept. 25 meeting, Jepson said it would prohibit State and local governments “from enacting any new or increased tax on services” not already in effect as of Dec. 31, 2017.
“Everybody tries to keep taxes down,” he told the council. “You guys are very thrifty and very careful on that.”
As to the harm Prop. 126 might cause Globe, Jepson said it would “permanently remove a major sector of the economy from ever being considered for taxation by any state or local government,” even if it meant lower taxes on other sectors of the economy.
He called Prop. 126 a “direct preemption of local governments, including charter cities.”
“It creates even greater pressure on the retail goods sector of the economy, which is declining as the service sector continues to grow,” Jepson said.
He called it “unwise” creating tax policy at the ballot box, “particularly in the form of a constitutional amendment – which can never be changed – except by another constitutional amendment.”
The next regularly scheduled Globe City Council meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, in council chambers, 150 N. Pine St.