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APS and the Momentum of 100 Percent Clean Energy

This week’s announcement by Arizona Public Service (APS) that it will fully decarbonize the electricity it sells to its customers is a major win for a clean energy future, both in Arizona and nationally. It is also part of a wave of announcements by states, cities, and utilities that plan to move to 100 percent zero-carbon electricity. APS is the seventh US utility to set a target to fully decarbonize its operations by 2050 or sooner, and in doing so it also joins 14 states, dozens of corporations, and more than 100 cities across the nation.

However, not all of these pledges are the same; there is a big difference between mandates that are part of state law and voluntary goals. This pledge by APS, like all of the plans by utilities, is by its nature voluntary. Likewise, out of the 14 states, only four (plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.) have enshrined 100 percent clean energy targets in law. Most of the others reflect more aspiration than actual policy.

And it is notable that in the case of several utilities, such as Public Service Company of New Mexico and Avista, their 100 percent renewable energy pledges came after either existing or pending state law would set a requirement. In the case of Xcel, one of the states where it operates (Colorado) had an incoming governor who pledged to put the state on a path to fully decarbonize its electricity supply. Read more here.