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EGEB: Arizona utilities’ electricity to be 100% carbon-free by 2050

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • The Arizona Corporation Commission requires state utilities to move to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. 
  • US president-elect Joe Biden names John Kerry special presidential envoy for climate change.
  • St. Petersburg, Florida, launches AVA, electric driverless shuttles that share the road with cars.
  •  UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Arizona’s carbon-free electricity

Arizona utility regulators have approved new rules that will require electric companies to provide 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. It will become the seventh state to pass measures that lead to 100% renewable or carbon-free electricity.

The bipartisan Arizona Corporation Commission approved a plan with a 4-1 vote last week. Arizona’s elected commission has broad powers over utility rates, unlike in other states. It will go through a public comment period in January, followed by a final vote sometime next year by the newly elected commission.

Due to some political horse trading to ensure the new commission passes it, the current commission did not require utilities to use a set amount of renewable energy.

AZCentral explains how it will work:

The new rules update the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff that an all-Republican commission passed in 2006 and requires utilities to get 15% of their power from renewables by 2025, as well as the 2010 energy-efficiency requirements for them to use efficiency measures to meet 22% of their energy demand by this year.

Electric utilities now will have to phase out coal- and natural-gas-burning power plants, and they will need to start soon. The plan has interim requirements that utilities cut carbon emissions in half by 2032 and 75% by 2040.

The carbon reductions are based on how much carbon a utility’s power plants emitted on average from 2016 to 2018.

Under that new rule, utilities must implement enough energy-efficiency measures by 2030 to equal 35% of their 2020 peak demand. The new rule also includes interim requirements to ensure utilities are working toward that annually.

Kerry is climate czar

John Kerry has been named special presidential envoy for climate change on the National Security Council — aka “climate czar” — by US president-elect Joe Biden. It’s a brand-new position. As secretary of state in the Obama administration, Kerry played a key role in negotiating the Paris Agreement and made climate change a core issue in the state department. He’s been involved in climate efforts for decades, including launching the bipartisan World War Zero coalition last year.

Biden wrote in an email to supporters in which he announced Kerry’s appointment:

This role is the first of its kind: the first cabinet-level climate position, and the first time climate change has had a seat at the table on the National Security Council. There could be no one better suited to meet this moment.

Kerry said:

America will soon have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat that it is.

Greenpeace climate campaign director Janet Redman said:

In addition to the Kerry appointment, Biden must empower a climate council to act on the substantive changes we need to survive. We deserve a world beyond fossil fuels — a world in which workers’ rights, community health, and our shared climate come before corporate profits. Right now, John Kerry has an unprecedented chance to lay the groundwork.

AVA in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Florida, launched AVA, a fare-free, electric autonomous vehicle yesterday. It’s one of the first times that an autonomous vehicle will share the road with other vehicles. The public shuttle will run along Bayshore Drive in the downtown area of the city, of which Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) CEO Brad Miller said:

We do have lots of traffic, lots of activity along this corridor, so it will be a great test of the technology.

PSTA partnered with the Florida Department of Transportation, along with Beep, an autonomous mobility company in Orlando. Beep is the exclusive dealer and operator for autonomous and electric vehicles made by French-headquartered NAVYA.

St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman said:

These electric vehicles can go for nine hours on a full charge proving that smart transportation solutions can also be environmentally friendly, which fits perfectly with our city’s goal of reducing our carbon footprint and becoming 100% renewable by 2035.

AVA will pilot for three months to gather information about passenger experiences.

Photo: Arizona Public Service Electric

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.