Biden Clean-Energy Plan Could be Hard Sell in AZ, Western States
Monday, September 13, 2021
CHANDLER, Ariz. - President Joe Biden's $150 billion clean-energy plan aims to rid almost half of the power grid of carbon-based fuels by 2035, but conservationists say his proposal will likely see resistance from Western states with energy-production economies.
The plan, which goes before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, would reduce the use of coal and natural gas to cut carbon emissions and to develop a green-energy economy.
Sandy Bahr is director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club and said she agrees with Biden's assertion that time is running out to deal with the effects of climate change.
"Extreme drought, extreme temperatures, larger wildfires," said Bahr. "Those are all costing us money. For those who think it's too costly to move rapidly to clean energy, it's much more costly not to."
Under Biden's program, energy suppliers would be eligible for grants if they increase the amount of clean electricity supplied to customers by 4% compared with the previous year. Republicans are expected to oppose the measure, saying it costs too much.
Bahr said while states such as Arizona, Utah, Montana and others have set their own renewable goals, power producers are going slowly to protect their carbon-based assets.
"We need to require these large monopoly utilities to do better," said Bahr. "They move too slowly and they often have a vested interest in keeping some of these old plants running longer."
In many states, there are weak inducements to cut back on the use of coal and gas. Scott Williams, executive director of the environmental watchdog Healthy Environment Alliance (HEAL) Utah, said regulators need to rethink their incentives.
"Their primary charge in doing that is to provide power to customers at the lowest possible rate," said Williams, "although they are also charged to consider other societal benefits."
Other highlights of Biden's Build Back Better plan include funding electric-grid improvements, decarbonizing federal buildings and vehicle fleets, providing home and appliance efficiency rebates, and subsidizing solar projects in low-income communities.
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