Arizona renewable energy and energy efficiency

The state of Arizona has many renewable energy and energy efficiency programs available across a wide range of technology types. Programs are available for commercial, residential, and utility-scale customers.

A history of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Arizona

Arizona has long been a prime state for hydropower. The state currently has twelve hydroelectric dams.1 Among these is the Hoover Dam, a massive concrete arch-gravity dam built along the Colorado River on the border of Arizona and Nevada during the Great Depression under the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The dam is now a national historic landmark and is among the most famous dams in the world. The Hoover Dam is the largest in the state, but the Glen Canyon Dam (built from 1956-1966), also along the Colorado River, is a close second. Together, these two dams generate 3,400 MW of power per year.

In recent years, Arizona has seen the construction of many distributed solar power plants. These solar power plants are quickly challenging hydroelectric power for the number one renewable energy source in the state.

Arizona's Renewable Portfolio Standard

In November of 2006, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) adopted the rules of the state's current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).2 Arizona's RPS requires that utilities procure 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025, with 30% of that being procured from distributed energy technologies. Prior to 2006, Arizona had passed an Environmental Portfolio Standard (EPS) in 2002, which required utilities to procure 0.4% of their power from renewables in 2002 and 1.1% from 2007-2012.3 The EPS was an update to a repealed set of rules passed by the ACC in 1996, which originally set a goal of 0.2% from solar energy by 1999 and 1% by 2023.

Important renewable energy organizations in Arizona

One important renewable energy organization in the state of Arizona is the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The ACC was founded by Article 15 of the Arizona Constitution.4 Arizona is one of only seven states to have a constitutionally founded commission. Additionally, the five commissioners of the ACC are elected rather than appointed. Arizona is one of only 13 states where this is the case. The ACC is called the “Corporation Commission” rather than “Public Utility” or “Public Service” commission because it has additional roles that go beyond those of similar organizations in most states, including the facilitation of business and organization incorporation, security regulation, and railroad and pipeline safety. The ACC also has executive, legislative, and judicial roles.

Another important organization in the state of Arizona advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency is the Arizona Power Authority. The history of the Arizona Power Authority dates back to the time of the Hoover Dam's construction. The Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928 allocated a portion of power produced from the Hoover Dam to Arizona. When the dam was completed in 1936, Arizona did not have the infrastructure necessary to receive and distribute this power, and thus, in 1944, the Arizona Power Authority was formed. Since its inception, the Authority has worked with public and private utilities to not only bring Hoover Dam power to all major load centers in Arizona at low cost, but also to meet many more energy challenges that have been brought about since then.

Utilities in the state also play a significant role in advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency. There are three predominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) in the state. One of these is the Arizona Public Service Company (APS), which is the largest utility in the state and has been active since its initial founding in 1886. Another is Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP), which provides power to the Tucson metropolitan area and prides itself on its community service, economic development, and volunteerism. The last of these is UniSource (UNS) Electric, a sister company of TEP, which provides natural gas service to Mohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Navajo, and Santa Cruz Counties. In addition to these three major IOUs, Arizona also has a private, self-governed corporation known as Salt River Project (SRP), which provides power to about 1 million people in the Phoenix metropolitan area and surrounding areas. There are also several municipal utilities and cooperatives active throughout the state.


  1. National Hydropower Association. Accessed October 28, 2020.
  2. Arizona Corporation Commission. “Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
  3. DSIRE. “Renewable Energy Standard.” Accessed October 28, 2020.
  4. Arizona State Legislature. “Arizona State Constitution.” Accessed October 28, 2020.

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