Elections

"Solar Team" Goes Dark; Voters Choose Three Republicans Instead for Arizona Corporation Commission

Voters turned out the lights on the self-described "solar team" of three Democrats who hoped to control the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The commission, which regulates public utilities, corporations, securities, railways and pipelines, will be dominated by an all-Republican membership for at least two years.

With 90 percent of polls reporting, the "solar team" of incumbents Paul Newman and Sandra Kennedy, plus newcomer Marcia Busching, have been edged out by at least two percentage points each.

The team had hoped to push for an increase in the mandated amount of renewable energy sources that must be used by state utilities. Currently, the state is required to generate at least 15 percent of its energy needs from sources like solar, wind, and hydro-power by 2025.

The slate of Republicans includes incumbent Bob Stump and newcomers Susan Bitter Smith, a former Scottsdale City Councilwoman, and former lawmaker Bob Burns.

The Republicans say they're not against solar -- they just don't want too much of it.

Smith tells New Times that solar-power experts agree that the industry must be weaned off subsidies eventually for its own good.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.