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AZ Daily Star | Marquez Peterson has chance to lead Arizona’s energy future

Priya Sundareshan | Special to the Arizona Daily Star
Our own recording secretary (attorney and teacher at the natural resources law clinic at the University of Arizona) penned this opinion piece.

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The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer:

New clean energy rules are on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s agenda for its upcoming May 4 meeting. At this meeting, the commission’s chair, Lea Marquez Peterson, has the chance to lead Arizona into a new era by voting to put these rules into effect.

If approved, these rules will update Arizona’s energy standards to put us on a path to 100% carbon reduction by 2050. They will also promote investments in energy efficiency and energy storage, make the utility planning process more transparent, and facilitate a just transition to clean energy sources for communities historically left behind.

And the rules will help Arizona regain the leadership we once exhibited when we were the first among our neighbors to introduce clean energy standards — though Arizona now falls far behind New Mexico and Nevada.

Tucson homeowners like me will benefit from the rules. I recently installed solar panels on my roof, but balked at paying for battery storage that could optimize an electric vehicle purchase and contribute to a more resilient grid.

If the commission approves this energy storage standard that includes customer-owned systems, it will motivate utilities to help individual consumers with incentives that defray some of the initial costs.

This is especially helpful to make solar more accessible for low- and moderate-income households, who can receive more incentives to install solar panels and energy storage as well as to replace outdated appliances through the new energy efficiency standard.

Of course, we all benefit due to the impact these rules will have on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to ward off the worst impacts of climate change.

As Tucsonans and Arizonans, we already see hotter weather making our lives difficult and drought conditions forcing us to renegotiate our water sources. We can distribute solar energy production on land that is already developed, generating electricity right where the people are and avoiding habitat impacts to our desert species.

The law students I teach are well aware of these natural resource constraints and are eager to help people adapt. We must act now.

The commission is well within its authority under the Arizona Constitution to finalize these rules. These energy rules arguably come under the commission’s sole and expansive ratemaking authority due to the impact these standards would have on utility generation portfolios and costs passed to consumers (for example, solar power is cheaper than power from burning fossil fuels).

And although an Arizona Supreme Court ruling last year held that the commission shares “permissive” authority with the legislature to regulate public health and safety, that does not prevent the commission from finalizing these rules.

Meanwhile, the state legislature has not enacted conflicting bills. Others note that the court actually has not determined which authority governs the energy rules — merely that appointing a utility’s interim manager was within its permissive authority but not its ratemaking authority.

The commission is empowered to move forward on the Energy Rules regardless of which authority it uses.

Chair Marquez Peterson should take this opportunity to approve the energy rules, which the five-member commission had agreed 4 to 1 on a bipartisan basis (with her favorable vote) in November to begin the formal rulemaking after thoroughly discussing the issue for three years.

Arizona voters rewarded her engagement while developing these rules and her interest in consumer protection, electing her in 2020 to a full four-year term and facilitating her assumption of the chair role. Now we need her leadership to finish this rulemaking that will improve the lives of Arizonans into the future.

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Priya Sundareshan is an attorney and teaches the natural resources law clinic at the University of Arizona.

Sundareshan, Priya (2021) “Tucson Opinion: Marquez Peterson has chance to lead Arizona’s energy future” Arizona Daily Star April 28, 2021 Available at: link

Local Opinion: Now is the time for ‘Medicare for All’

Local Opinion: Now is the time for ‘Medicare for All’

  • By Alison Jones Special to the Arizona Daily Star Sept 6, 2019

The following column is the opinion and analysis of the writer.

My Republican counterpart’s letter regarding “Medicare for All” is filled with misinformation and fear-mongering. By reading HR 1384, the Medicare for All (M4A) bill, his points can be easily refuted. But first, let me be clear, M4A will not undermine our entire health-care system. The same doctors and hospitals will continue to practice and operate. M4A makes health care more accessible and addresses the very basic conflict of interest that patients must battle every day: every claim that an insurance company refuses to pay increases their bottom line.

David Eppihimer poses the question of who will decide what is covered? The answer is simple: doctors. Read the bill. It says M4A will “cover items and services that are medically necessary or appropriate to maintain health or to diagnose, treat, or rehabilitate a health condition, including hospital services, prescription drugs, mental health and substance abuse treatment, dental and vision services, and long-term care.”

Regarding the tax burden concern, federal expenses would increase since all costs are borne through taxes, but there would be no additional costs, so global payments for health care will significantly decrease and most families will pay much less than they do now. If you pay $2,000 more in taxes and save $6,000 in health-care costs, you’re $4,000 ahead.

Fears of rationing have always been the go-to argument for the GOP. Under M4A, care is based on whether it is medically necessary and appropriate. That’s not rationing. That’s good medical care. The current method of rationing based on one’s ability to pay is bad medicine. It is stunning that we are the only developed nation that denies care on this basis, and we see the repercussions in our substandard longevity statistics and health-care outcomes.

Republicans continue their fearmongering by saying hospitals will be forced to close because they won’t get paid enough. In truth, in those states where Medicaid wasn’t expanded, hospitals are closing because so many patients have no insurance. Under M4A, hospitals will be paid a global budget that takes into account many factors so that hospitals will be paid appropriately and can stay in business. It’s all explained in the text of the bill — read it.

Finally, Eppihimer’s concern about limited choices is a red herring. Choices of what? Insurance companies? In the bills before Congress, all doctors and hospitals would be included. Current Medicare plans include all physicians. Only private Medicare Advantage Plans limit choice, and those would be eliminated.

When Americans are able to reject the propaganda of fear and examine the facts, the solution becomes clear: single-payer health care is humane, proven, and cost-effective. Now is the time for Medicare for All.

Arizona Democratic Party SUPPORTS HR134 – read the resolution here.

read HR134 here

See what doctors say here.

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