For Immediate Release | 8-17-20
Media Contact | Daniel Schwiebert
Direct | 602-542-3625
E-Mail | DPSchwiebert@azcc.gov
Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson Calls for Emergency Meeting Amid Rolling Energy Blackouts in California
REMOTELY FROM TUCSON — On Monday,Arizona Corporation Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson issued a letter calling for an emergency meeting of Arizona’s public utility commissioners to discuss rolling blackouts in California as the state experiences record high temperatures and insufficient energy supplies.
On August 16, 2020, California’s independent grid operator asked Californians to set their air conditioner thermostats to hotter temperatures and not use major appliances between 3 p.m.and 10 p.m. in hopes that enough energy could be conserved to avoid rolling blackouts. Unfortunately, California’s requested energy restrictions did not work and nearly two million people lost power over a four hour period on Friday and nearly one million people were forced into a blackout on Saturday. Sources now indicate that California may continue experiencing blackouts through Monday or possibly longer.
Meanwhile, Arizona is experiencing some of the same extreme heat patterns across the state with temperatures over 110 degrees for the 41st day this year, making summer 2020 the hottest summer ever recorded. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic means millions of Arizonans are staying home and relying on their air conditioners to stay cool, causing residential energy demands for utilities such as APS and TEP to increase from four to six percent since March 2020.
“I am truly concerned for Arizonans, should a blackout occur during one of our hottest times on record. The thought of telling Arizonans to restrict their air conditioning use during this time, or of not having power at all when Arizonans need electricity the most, is unfathomable at this time,” said Commissioner Márquez Peterson.
Commissioner Márquez Peterson’s Office contacted Arizona’s largest electric utilities over the weekend to obtain assurances that similar energy restrictions would not be needed in Arizona, but Commissioner Márquez Peterson also has concerns regarding the cost to vulnerable consumers and wants to hear what protections have been put in place to help keep costs low when local power generation is insufficient.
“Arizonans simply cannot afford to both turn down their air conditioners during record temperatures and pay triple the price for energy shortfalls when existing resources are insufficient.While the blackouts seen in California are not a future that Arizonans want to see, massive price spikes necessary to prevent such blackouts are not a future that Arizonans want to see, either," said Commissioner Márquez Peterson.
Commissioner Márquez Peterson has asked the Chairman of the Corporation Commission to schedule an emergency meeting to get additional updates from Arizona’s utilities and assurances that Arizona’s utilities are prepared should a similar situation occur here in Arizona.
For a copy of Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson’s Letter, click here.