Interwest Energy Alliance Brief Overview of Regional Election Results

3 November 2010

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Arizona

Jan Brewer (R) elected governor to fill remainder of predecessor Janet Napolitano’s term, 55% to 42%, over challenger Terry Goddard (D)

In her own words:

“Arizona’s solar industry is becoming an economic force of great significance that will diversify our economy, grow green jobs, and better the environment for the citizens of this great State,” added Governor Brewer.

—From 11 August 2010 press release, “Governor Jan Brewer and City of Surprise Welcome Rioglass Solar to Arizona”

Arizona Corporation Commissioner candidate Brenda Burns (R) elected with 29% of vote (highest of all candidates; top two vote-getters take office)

In her own words:

Q: How would you promote greater use of renewables?
A: “We need to encourage research and development for technologies to continue the declining cost and make renewable energy more efficient for Arizona customers. We must also encourage the use of more efficient appliances, including solar thermal water heaters.

The cost of renewable energy sources such as solar has been declining and new energy companies are forming to serve the growing demand. The Commission should not be adding layers of red tape and regulation that could impede consumer choice and get in the way of solar energy development.

It is also important for Arizona to have a welcoming business climate for renewable manufacturing and other industry-related companies looking to locate in the Western United States. As a former President of the Arizona Senate, I have a strong working relationship with many of our State Legislators. I would utilize those relationships to establish and maintain a positive, stable and effective business and tax climate for the renewable industry to bring revenues and jobs to Arizona.”

Q: Do you think the current requirement for utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025 is reasonable and would you keep it in place?
A: “Yes. Arizonans want reliable, affordable, clean and renewable energy. As a Commissioner, I will attempt to create a positive and stable regulatory environment for the industry. I will also stay focused on making sure Arizona ratepayers receive economic benefits as well as environmental benefits that come from this emerging energy source. With technological advancements for efficiency and cost-competitiveness, we may even find that Arizona can surpass that goal.”

—From candidate questionnaire conducted by azcentral.com

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce (R) re-elected with 28% of vote (second-highest of five candidates; top two vote-getters take office)

In his own words:

Q: How would you promote greater use of renewables?
A: “The best thing we can do to promote the use of renewables is to help the cost of renewables decline. The Commission can do this by giving utilities the flexibility to pursue the cheapest renewable sources available and by not regulating competitive solar providers as if they are utility companies. I have led the Commission in both of these areas.”

Q: Do you think the current requirement for utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025 is reasonable and would you keep it in place?
A: “Yes. I believe the 15 percent renewable energy standard is reasonably attainable, and I would keep it in place. The cost of renewable energy is rapidly declining and it will continue to fall as we provide regulatory certainty to the industry and give our utilities the flexibility to secure renewable resources that optimize ratepayer dollars.”

—From candidate questionnaire conducted by azcentral.com

State legislative results: increased Republican control

“An already heavily Republican Legislature is expected to become even more conservative as the final votes are tallied in Tuesday’s election.

This legislative session, Republicans held 35 of the 60 House seats and 18 of the 30 Senate seats. As of Tuesday night, Republicans were poised to gain at least two House seats and three Senate seats, possibly more, depending on the outcome of a few races that were too close to call.”

—From azcentral.com

Colorado

John Hickenlooper (D) elected governor, 51% to 37%, over challenger Tom Tancredo (American Constitutional Party). Republican candidate Dan Maes received 11% of the vote.

In his own words:

“Key Priorities
• Expand Colorado’s Energy Business.
• Promote Energy Efficiency.
• Support New Clean Energy and the 30% Renewable Energy Standard.
• Promote Natural Gas as a cleaner, more sustainable fuel source.
• Support Clean Coal research.

[…]

New Clean Energy: Whether it’s renewable energy, smart energy use technologies, or new ways to use older technologies, Colorado is a national leader. Our investor-owned electric utilities are in the top ten for renewable energy generation. We have a world-class wind resource. We have over 300 days of sunshine a year. We have some of the finest research institutions in the world. More importantly, no state has developed a more comprehensive set of policies to foster new and innovative energy technologies. We will work to retain and expand these major clean energy investments in Colorado.

Increasing the use of innovation and green technology will create jobs and economic growth. Colorado can continue to assert leadership in three ways:
1. Build on the renewable and energy efficiency policies currently in place.
2. Develop a more robust electricity transmission grid to support renewable energy generation and provide access for more of our energy to other markets.
3. Develop and implement the next generation of smart grid technologies to increase efficiency in our current systems.”

—From Campaign website

State legislative results: Races go down to wire; possible party split in control of chambers
Results are still being counted in several key races. Various press and blog reports indicate a potential one-vote majority for either the Democrats or Republicans in the 65-member House, while Democrats are hoping to retain a Senate majority by one seat in the 35-seat chamber. In the previous General Assembly, Democrats controlled the House, 37-27-1, and the Senate, 21-14.

Nevada

Brian Sandoval (R) elected governor, 53% to 42%, over challenger Rory Reid (D)

In his own words:

Q: What affordable energy producing programs would you promote and how would you propose implementing them? Do you support bringing nuclear power to Nevada?

A: “I believe that nuclear energy must be a part of a fully balanced national energy policy and I think renewable energy should also play a meaningful role in that policy. In Nevada, I think we’ve gotten it right and are way ahead of the rest of the nation in terms of recognizing the importance of solar, wind and geothermal energy development. I strongly support the Legislature’s recent action calling for 25 percent of the power generated in this state by the year 2025 to be from a renewable resource.”

—From 9 April interview, “CANDID CANDIDATE: An e-Interview with Brian Sandoval,” by Nancy Dallas in Nevada News & Views.

Brian Krolicki (R) re-elected lieutenant governor, 52% to 42% over challenger Jessica Sferrazza (D)

In his own words:

“Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki noted not only the state’s ties with federal government agencies and the military, but said Nevada is ‘at the epicenter’ for energy production, research and development.

‘Nevada’s renewable energy prospects are truly profound, Mr. Krolicki said. ‘Today, Nevada is the number one producer of both solar and geothermal energy per capita in the United States, and we take great pride in that, (though) we have barely started.’”

—From speech by Lt. Gov. Krolicki to United States Air Force’s “Nevada Forum” on 25 August, from Air Force officials discuss training, energy compatibility at Nevada Forum

State legislature: Democrats retain control with reduced majority in each chamber
State Assembly: 26 D-16 R (was 28 D-16 R)
Senate: 11 D-10 R (was 12 D-9 R)

New Mexico

Susana Martinez (R) elected governor, 54% to 46% over challenger Diane Denish (D)

In her own words:

From article by Susana Martinez, “NM’s energy industry is crucial to future growth,” posted on 5 February 2010 at nmpolitics.net:

“I strongly support efforts to increase the amount of energy produced from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and bio fuels. But as we work to harness these new energy sources, we must recognize that New Mexicans now receive 90 percent of their electricity from coal-fired power plants, and that percentage is not likely to drastically change overnight.

Given the reality of the situation, the most practical way to protect our environment is to work with these energy producers to ensure we balance the economic and energy needs of our state with our commitment to protecting our environment.

I support creating incentives that encourage coal power plants to invest in new technology that will help coal burn more efficiently and reduce our carbon footprint. The San Juan Generating Station recently invested more than $300 million in improved technologies to help reduce emissions, and Business Week reported that the Four Corners Power Plant meets or exceeds all state and federal environmental regulations.

[…]

Another key to our energy independence is nuclear energy. While we must invest in renewable sources of energy like wind, solar and bio fuels, we must also accept the reality that we are not yet at the place where these renewable sources can meet our energy needs. Nuclear energy must be part of the solution.”

Public Regulation Commissioner candidates

PRC District 2: Patrick Lyons (R) defeated Stephanie DuBois (D), 69% to 31%

Answers of Patrick Lyons to Albuquerque Journal candidate questionnaire:

Q: What would be your priorities if elected to the PRC?
A: “When I am elected to the PRC I have six priorities: 1) Bring respect and integrity back to the PRC. 2) Make sure the consumer has his/ her voice heard. 3) Make sure any increases over 10 percent and any utility rate or insurance rate goes in front of the PRC. 4) Have a good balance between the consumer and the shareholders. 5) Ensure fair and reasonable rates are charged by all companies that come under the PRC. 6) Help New Mexico upgrade the electrical transmission lines.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the state mandate that a certain percentage of electricity sold by public utility companies be derived from renewable energy sources, with the cost to the companies then passed on to customers? How important is the cost to consumers of those renewables?
A: “New Mexico needs to use all forms of electrical generation. I brought the first wind energy to New Mexico as the commissioner of Public Lands. I agree renewables should be a certain percentage of electricity sold and at a reasonable cost.”

PRC District 4: Theresa Becenti-Aguilar (D) defeated Gary J. Montoya (R), 54% to 46%

Answers of Theresa Becenti-Aguilar to Albuquerque Journal candidate questionnaire

Q: What would be your priorities if elected to the PRC?
A: “My priority is to represent New Mexicans and educate the public about PRC responsibilities. I plan to evaluate and press questions of proposed rate increases by utility companies. I will base my decisions for fair and reasonable rates for residential customers, small and large commercial customers.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the state mandate that a certain percentage of electricity sold by public utility companies be derived from renewable energy sources, with the cost to the companies then passed on to customers? How important is the cost to consumers of those renewables?
A: “I would support promoting carbon-free renewable energy resources according to Renewable Portfolio Standard enacted into law by the Legislature. The utility companies need to take proper steps to balance cost and not pass it to consumers. I will push … to educate consumers to be innovative thinkers and common sense incentives in partnership with utility companies, stakeholders and the public.”

PRC District 5: Ben L. Hall (R) defeated Bill McCamley (D), 52% to 48%

Answers of Ben Hall to Albuquerque Journal candidate questionnaire

Q: What would be your priorities if elected to the PRC?
A: “My priorities will be to set the PRC house in order, insisting the elected commissioners lead by example for the benefit of the public and the PRC employees; and to help earn the public respect and support by positive actions of the commissioner.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the state mandate that a certain percentage of electricity sold by public utility companies be derived from renewable energy sources, with the cost to the companies then passed on to customers? How important is the cost to consumers of those renewables?
A: “Renewable energy will be a great thing and in the future I am sure it will become the number one source of energy for New Mexico and the U.S.A. However, the idea of passing the cost onto the consumer must be looked at very carefully … especially in these tough economic times. It sounds great for someone to mandate that we change to renewable energy, but keep in mind it isn’t free.”

State House: Democratic majority narrows

“Democrats had a 45-25 advantage in the state House going into Tuesday night’s
election. But if the numbers from election night hold out, the Democrats’ edge will narrow to 37-33.” [No state Senate seats were up for election yesterday]

—From the New Mexico Independent

Utah

Gary Herbert (R) elected governor to fill remainder of predecessor Jon Huntsman’s term, 64% to 32%, over challenger Peter Corroon (D)

In his own words:

From campaign web page entitled “Energy Independence and Utah’s Energy Sector”:

“Our economy faces challenges beyond the recession. Utah stands ready to become part of the resolution of America’s energy dilemma. I have established a 9-point plan to address Utah’s energy needs, and make Utah energy independent within 10 years.

I am a strong proponent of conservation. The cheapest, cleanest, easiest energy resource is the energy we save through conservation and energy efficiency. Government regulation of individual activity is a poor substitute for personal initiative. The obligation belongs to each one of us to make the changes to our lives that preserve our quality of life, and our individual liberty.

Thus, my 9-point plan (PDF) relies upon free-market principles and strategic planning by state and local governments that will encourage development of our natural resources. This includes regulatory reforms that enhance the ability of the private sector to develop cutting edge technologies, expansion of Utah’s energy generation capacity, and making room for more renewable energy production.”

State legislative results: Republicans pad huge majority
Initial results show Republicans controlling the 75-member House, 58-17 (from a previous 50-25 margin) and it appears that Republican control of the 29-member Senate will increase to 22 Republicans and nine Democrats (from a previous 21-8 Republican majority).

Wyoming

Matt Mead (R) elected governor, 72% to 25%, over challenger Leslie Petersen (D)

In his own words:

From the energy issues page on Matt Mead’s website:

“When it comes to energy, Wyoming has it all – oil, gas, coal, uranium, wind, as well as others…Because our country does not have a good or comprehensive energy policy, Wyoming must lead, not simply wait and follow the federal government.

[…]

We should also plan to supplement, with gas-fired turbines, our State’s wind resources, which are excellent — among the nation’s best — but still not constant. We should plan for transmission lines and collector lines so such lines do not, for lack of planning, end up looking like spaghetti.

As Governor, I will deal with the energy of today and tomorrow. We need to be proactive. I am unconvinced that climate change is man-made, but I do recognize we may face challenges presented by those who propose and believe they can change our climate by law with ill-thought-out policy like cap and trade (the latest version of which is the Senate Climate Bill, S. 1733, unveiled May 12th). Energy policy should be based on sound science and not political agendas. We must fight cap and trade because coal, gas, and oil are critical to our state and country. But, we must also prepare for change – such as the eventuality of carbon capture – and continue research and development so we are prepared for what the future brings and capitalize on it.

A coordinated State energy policy should include measures to minimize the effect of energy development on private property rights…

[…]

It is disgraceful we do not have more nuclear plants in the United States. Our State’s energy policy should include coordination with and support for the uranium industry in Wyoming. Wyoming will be the supplier of nuclear fuel for the rest of the nation’s low emission, nuclear power.

The energy industry needs long-term certainty in order to fully invest in our State. We need to take a hard look at how these industries such as wind are taxed. I supported looking at excises taxes rather than excessive sales taxes to encourage investment. I was the only candidate that supported a reasonable, graduated excise tax on wind generation to benefit counties, because development impacts are felt locally and that was where the tax revenues should go. The legislature did pass a tax on electricity generated from wind, of $1/megawatt hour with a delayed effective date on or after 1/1/2012, 60% of the tax to be distributed to counties where the generating facility is located and 40% going to the general fund. I was disappointed that not all the revenue will go to the counties, but was glad to see the State move in the direction of a fair tax on wind — one not designed to kill a burgeoning industry in its infancy. The Task Force on Wind Energy is looking at possible changes to eminent domain laws for wind collector lines, with a report expected before year’s end, and I support changes that balance the interests of all stakeholders.

Wyoming should be the first door anyone knocks on for energy needs. As Governor, I will make sure it is.

As Governor, I will see that our State has a coordinated policy for energy development, which includes and takes into account available research to keep our State pristine and which includes alternatives to diversify the energy economy. I will also see that the policy gets implemented so energy development proceeds in accordance with it.”

State legislative results: Republicans gain seats and retain majorities in both chambers

With votes still being counted, it appears likely the Republicans will gain several seats in the 30-member Senate (previously 23 R to 7 D) and in the 60-nenber House (previously 41 R to 19 D).