Legislative Update for July 24th, 2017

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I spent most of last week at the Clean Energy Legislative Academy, put on by the Center for the New Energy Economy. Unlike the ALEC conference in Denver last week, the Academy is not sponsored by companies that have an interest in lobbying legislators. It is funded by foundations with an eye toward bi-partisan dialogue and learning.

Breckenridge_Update.pngCheck out my little video summary here

The take-away: there is an incredible amount of development around the country on the new energy economy and Arizona is behind. With prices on battery technology coming down, energy customers are going to have a great deal of choice in how they combine solar energy, energy efficiency products and energy storage in order to save money. 

Other utilities, such as ComEd from Illinois are publicly changing course away from very business model that they have been operating under for a century. ComEd President Anne Pramaggiore came to the conference to say that her industry must adapt to the disruptive technology of the new energy economy, or be prepared to lose customers and revenue. She said that she wants to "meet the customers where they are, rather than force them in to an out-dated model."

This was a breath of fresh air. To be sure, ComEd may have its own history of fighting against renewables that I'm not familiar with. But, when the president of the company tells a room full of legislators that she wants to change that, it is heartening. Here's more on her public statements.

I was told by an employee of APS recently that they are studying how battery technology could improve their grid stability in light of the intermittence caused by residential solar. Most of that effort is focused on putting large battery installations on the utility side of the meter, where they control the electrons.

Talk of this could go two ways. It could go the way of the solar panel, in which the utility fights the introduction of battery storage tooth and nail. Or our utilities could get outside their comfort zones to offer customers real choice. In this model, the utility can create new revenue streams by offering products and services --and choice-- while still maintaining its role as the overseer of an increasingly complicated grid structure. 

Pramaggiore agrees with the second model. She told me as much. I'd love to host her here in AZ for a bi-partisan discussion with elected officials, utilities and the public to explore these new models. 

Just gotta find a little more room on my plate. Stay tuned.

Regardless, these are discussions that we need to have if we are going to plan for our energy future, create jobs and protect our environment. 

News Around the District

1) Our Summer Chill Series was a great success, with the last one at McFate Brewery. We got a tour of the brewery and everybody had a great time. I met many new folks who just wanted to speak with their legislator one-on-one in a relaxed atmosphere.

We have no more events planned until September. Still, I'm still raising funds for what will probably be a very competitive race next year --a race that I hear Dark Money forces plan to play in against me. Please help us build up our resources early with a contribution today. I truly appreciate your support!

2) The LD24 Dems meet every second Thursday of the month at 7pm. Stay tuned to this Facebook page for updates. Since the attendance has grown, we may move to a new location.

Brain Food
Net_Neutrality.png1) Remember when we all banded together a few years ago to tell Congress that Net Neutrality is important for our country? Well, given all of the distractions, you could be forgiven for not noticing that the new FCC chairman is pretty motivated to give big ISPs the right to show favor to some customers over others. Read "rich over poor" and "established companies over new competition." Check out this informative video with an update. Time to save the internet again.

2) Speaking of the new energy economy, I believe that electric car sales will go through the roof as soon as prices reach a certain point (which will be soon) and as soon as we invest in more charging stations (which will have to be at the state and private level because our president is ignoring that need). Here's a great article detailing what you can expect in the next few years as that market expands.

3) As you know, I've been fighting predatory lending for some time. Unfortunately, after we shut down payday lending, title lending became even more predatory. Fortunately, some actors are coming in to protect consumers where the Arizona Legislature has failed. The Arizona Community Foundation, MariSol Federal Credit Union, the Phoenix IDA, and Take Charge America are launching a program to rescue Maricopa County residents struggling to pay off high-cost car title loans. The program is called Lend a Hand and here’s how it works: 

  • take-charge-america-logo.pngInterested individuals can download an application and review eligibility requirements at www.takechargeamerica.org/lendahandOnce they submit the application, they call 1-877-822-2410 and schedule a free, confidential credit counseling session with Take Charge America. During the session, they can get help to develop a budget and create an action plan to eliminate debt and save for the future. 

  • MariSol Federal Credit Union will then review their application for eligibility, and if they qualify, will pay off up to $2,000 of the outstanding car title loan debt. 

  • MariSol will then convert the amount paid off into a new lower-interest loan with better repayment terms. MariSol will also help borrowers establish a savings account to fund future emergencies by requiring an initial savings deposit of $25, plus additional $10 savings deposits for every month of the loan.

4) My friend Solange is taking on one side of a debate about the Desert Discovery Center, proposed at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The debate rages a little outside my legislative district, but I thought you might like to know what its all about. It comes down to whether limited funds should be used to continue to maintain the preserve, or build a visitor's center. What do you think?