Secretary of State's Office: Clean Energy Initiative Has Enough Signatures for Ballot

Solar would most likely encompass a much greater percentage of public utilities' electricity generation, should a constitutional amendment succeed.EXPAND
Solar would most likely encompass a much greater percentage of public utilities' electricity generation, should a constitutional amendment succeed.
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A clean energy initiative submitted enough valid signatures to make it onto the ballot in November, according to the Arizona Secretary of State's office.

Voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment mandating that Arizona utilities generate 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind by 2030.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Michele Reagan's office released the latest results of the random 5 percent sample of signatures conducted by county recorders. Out of a sample of 22,722 signatures, 16,146 were verified, or 71 percent.

The office is still waiting on validity results from Yuma County, so the clean energy initiative is not officially on the ballot. But according to Eric Spencer, Arizona's state elections director, the measure now has enough valid signatures to put it over the top.

The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative is backed by the political action group NextGen America, founded by billionaire Trump foe Tom Steyer.

D.J. Quinlan, a spokesperson for the clean energy campaign, called the announcement a "big win for voters" and a chance to move toward more wind and solar power. He also blasted Arizona's largest utility, Arizona Public Service.

"APS has launched an unprecedented opposition campaign designed to deny voters a choice for more renewable energy like wind and solar," Quinlan said in a statement. "This includes spending over $7 million of their own customers' money."

An opposition campaign funded by the parent company of APS has waged an assault on the proposed clean energy mandate. But so far, opponents have been unable to kill the ballot measure.

The APS-funded opposition committee, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, has spent millions of dollars to scuttle the initiative, arguing that the mandate will raise electricity prices and force the closure of the Palo Verde nuclear plant. They've also cast Steyer as a liberal boogeyman determined to transform Arizona into California.

After the clean energy campaign submitted over 480,000 signatures in July – way more than the 225,000 required to make the ballot – the opposition campaign sued in Maricopa County Superior Court to force the Secretary of State to toss out the initiative.

Among the opposition campaign's arguments: Page after page of signatures were rife with mistakes, missing names, or were signed by people not registered to vote in Arizona; NextGen should have openly declared that it was backing the initiative; and thousands of signatures that were collected by felons in violation of Arizona law.

Less than a quarter of the initiative's signatures were valid, according to the opponents. Yet the sampling conducted by the county recorders contradicts their argument.

Most of the larger samples reviewed by county recorders were between 75 and 85 percent valid. Maricopa County's sample of 15,950 signatures was 70 percent valid.

Still, opponents will get one last shot at the initiative. The court case before Judge Daniel Kiley will go to trial on Monday.

Update, August 16: With the last results from Yuma County recorded by the Secretary of State, the clean energy measure will be on the ballot, barring an upset at trial.

Spencer shared the news on Twitter on Thursday afternoon with a copy of the certification letter signed by Reagan. 

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