Billionaire runs into headwinds in attempt to require inefficient alternative energy in Arizona
Phoenix New Times:
Tom Steyer is best known as a liberal mega-donor, Wall Street executive, and the man holding the megaphone in a controversial campaign to impeach President Trump.California has the highest electric rates in the nation and struggles to manage its alternative energy projects which lack teh ability to scale and adjust to demand. If it is not producing enough California has to revert to fossil fuels and if it has too much, California has to pay people in other states to take its excess capacity. It is a suboptimal situation that hey currently have no way remedy and if someday they add storage batteries it is another huge expense added to the current high prices.
But these days in Arizona, Steyer is famous — or infamous — for another reason.
He's behind a hotly contested ballot measure on renewable energy. And as a result, Steyer is now public enemy number one in an aggressive PR campaign to push back on an initiative to amend Arizona's constitution.
On one side: a mysterious new opposition group that says the clean energy ballot measure will hike electricity prices. On the other: clean energy advocates who contend that the state's largest utility company is fueling the opposition campaign with ratepayer money. Both sides are less than transparent.
The initiative campaign, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, would enshrine mandatory renewable energy goals for utility companies in the state constitution, mandating that utilities achieve 50 percent of their power from renewable sources like solar and wind, but not nuclear, energy by 2030.
The ballot measure has the financial backing of Steyer's political organizing group, NextGen America. Opponents of the clean energy initiative have seized on the involvement of Steyer and NextGen, arguing that the billionaire is trying to import a failed energy scheme from neighboring California.
Recently, a shadowy new group entered the clean-energy melee: a political action committee called Reliable Energy Policy, which incorporated earlier this month.
The organization quickly unveiled a sleek website, "He's Got a Secret." The site purports to expose Steyer's background to discredit his role in the clean energy campaign. The organization behind the site, however, has a few secrets of its own.
Readers who click around can find an aerial shot of Steyer's San Francisco mansion and a link to a 2014 New York Times article that describes how Steyer's hedge fund invested heavily in fossil fuels like coal before he stepped down from the firm in 2012 to create a political action group, NextGen Climate. The organization later broadened its focus from climate change and changed its name to NextGen America.
"Tom Steyer wants you to fund his latest scheme by doubling your utility bills," the narrator intones. "Protect Arizona and say no to the California billionaire."
The site urges Arizonans to decline to sign the petition for the clean energy campaign, which needs nearly 226,000 signatures by July 5 to qualify for the November ballot.