Policy & Politics

Published on May 19th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer


Border Dispute between Arizona and California Could Shut Down Power to LA

May 19th, 2010 by  

Gary Pierce, one of four commissioners on the Arizona Corporate Commission, that oversees state utilities, is threatening an energy boycott against Los Angeles.  The move is reminiscent of the Russian embargo of Natural Gas to Europe a couple of winters ago. Los Angeles gets a quarter of its power from nuclear, hydro and coal plants in Arizona.


The Arizona commissioner wrote the letter in retaliation against the Los Angeles City Council which approved a resolution directing city staff to consider which contracts with Arizona could be terminated in protest over Arizona’s draconian new immigration law. Berkeley and San Francisco are among other cities considering a boycott over the law.

Border wars: they’re not just between nations.

“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation,” Pierce wrote.

“I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy.”

That may prove tricky. “We have right of ownership of the power plants,” said Tony LaBonge; a member of the LA City Council. “We partially own them.”

It is not the first time that Arizona officials have balked at sending their power to California. The state recently backed out of participating in a big new transmission line planned to California on the grounds that their state would turn into an “energy farm” for California, using up Arizona’s resources and costing the state’s rate-payers.

State Republicans are also backing out of renewable energy potential in the state. One Republican representative in Arizona’s state legislature is attempting  to forbid the ACC from requiring utilities to add more renewable energy and another one is offering a bill that waters down Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard. Governor Brewer abandoned the Western Climate Initiative pioneered by former governor Janet Napolitano as soon as she took office.

Image: VJSpectra

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

  • Alex

    This is a prime negative example of the consequences of the power sharing theory (using solar panels in sunny environments, wind turbines in windy envionments etc and transferring the power cross country to other places)I just hope they can find a way to resolve this which will be mutually beneficial

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