PHOENIX — Commissioner Andy Tobin wishes to thank all of those who have helped in the Commission passing Phase 1 of the Energy Modernization Plan at this month’s Open Meeting. The biomass and forest management phase is one of the most crucial pieces of the plan and helps ensure Arizona reduce catastrophic, unnatural wild fires that destroy the environment, infrastructure, and costs lives. Phase 1 would be a great benefit to our rural communities who have suffered significantly from these wildfires. This week, we voted to begin reducing that suffering by cleaning our forests and reducing the overall fuel loads to pave the way for natural and healthy fire regimes in Arizona.
Commissioner Tobin would especially like to thank the Rural Fire District Association, Residential Utility Consumer Office, State Forester Jeff Whitney, and Northern Arizona Council of Governments for their involvement and continued motivation to push forward with this solution. With continued cooperation between our organizations, we can lead Arizona into a new era of forest management.
“I want to especially thank our firefighters and fire districts throughout Arizona whose input and feedback over the years have helped this policy come to fruition,” said Commissioner Tobin. “Without this part of our comprehensive energy plan, Arizona would still face threats to our grid from out-of-control wildfires and would continue to lose precious water to overgrown forests. Fires such as the Goodwin fire in 2017 cost the state over $14.5 million but threatened to burn at least 807 million dollars in personal property according to Denny Foulk, Yavapai County Emergency manager. These costs of land, life, and property are unacceptable and need to be addressed. The Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Yarnell Fire, and many more are reason enough to move forward with this plan.”
Commissioner Tobin is glad the Commission is moving on the Energy Modernization Plan and addressing at least one of the emergencies that face the people of Arizona. As of 2017, in a report done by the Insurance Information Institute, Arizona ranks fourth in the U.S. for most households at high or extreme risk from wildfires totaling at 234,400 homes. Furthermore, these costs impact the state significantly. Hopefully, the Commission will consider and vote on the entirety of the Energy Modernization Plan which would address air quality issues with a clean energy goal of 80% by 2050, and maximize our use of renewables by developing additional storage resources in the state. The overall goal of this plan is to ensure that Arizona ratepayers continue to have access to reliable, clean energy at affordable rates.
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