There are many issues related to energy and climate change facing our region. Most of our electricity comes from coal-fired power plants that are major emitters of greenhouse gases. Rising temperatures due to climate change are expected to increase demand for air conditioning in the southwest and this in turn will require more coal-fired electricity which will further add to regional and global warming. Thus, our demand for more cooling will reinforce and add to the creation of greenhouse gasses.

Increased demand for electricity in a warming climate also increases water demand for both electric power plant cooling and for irrigation to landscaping that will become increasingly stressed as temperatures rise.


What is the situation…

Coal is the primary energy source for electricity in Arizona. The coal is burned to create steam, which is used to rotate turbines that drive alternators. When the coal is burned, the primary emission released is carbon dioxide (CO2), a known greenhouse gas that causes global warming. 

Regional growth projections will drive increased power consumption that will either come from additional coal-fired generation, worsening the global warming problem, or from clean sources of renewable energy. Choices made today in regional utility investment practices will determine what power sources we will rely upon during the coming decades and whether or not we add to the production of greenhouse gases.

What are the issues…

The rising cost of conventional energy supplies (coal, oil, natural gas) will translate into higher utility charges for all sectors. As population growth continues in the region, the cost of delivering water will also rise. As warming temperatures become the norm, precipitation patterns in the Colorado River watershed may affect the future availability of Colorado River water thus adding to regional stresses that are related to climate change. 

Municipal water delivery and waste and storm water infrastructure has been built under assumptions of certain historical water consumption, precipitation and population growth patterns. Changes anticipated due to climate disruptions and rising energy and water costs could invalidate these assumptions. For example, should precipitation events become more intense, storm water infrastructure may become inadequate to manage peak runoff volumes.

Water and energy uses are interconnected in many ways as increases in water efficiency often result in energy savings and vice versa. Similarly, inefficiency in water use often carries with it a higher energy and greenhouse gas price tag. Thus, companies, organizations, and even individual water customers can achieve energy and greenhouse gas savings through more efficient water use practices. 

What are the policies/regulations…

Action Climate Tucson
The goal of Action Climate Tucson is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 7% below 1990 levels.

The benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our community include: saving on fuel and utility costs, creating jobs and promoting the economy, conserving our precious water resources, cleaner air, and improving the efficiency of buildings.

Tucson's arid desert climate makes the community especially sensitive to climate change. When we all work together Action Climate Tucson’s mitigation and adaptation strategies will help decrease Tucson’s vulnerability to climate change and create a more resilient future community.

Learn more by searching Action Climate Tucson on Facebook. Show your support for the City's climate action plan by visiting the Action Climate Tucson page.

Climate Change Response Ordinance (CCRO)
The City is in the process of developing a consolidated environmental ordinance to replace the various existing habitat protection codes. This process is being supported by input from the Resource Planning Advisory Committee (RPAC).

Greater Tucson Strategic Energy Plan
A working group was established after PAG and the U.S. Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding on Aug. 8, 2005 to cooperate in the development of a vision and plan that positions the region as a leader in the development of renewable energy, clean energy technologies, energy surety and green building techniques.

The State of Arizona has a Climate Change Action Plan( that was established via Executive Order in 2006. It sets a statewide goal to reduce Arizona's future greenhouse gas emissions to the 2000 emissions level by the year 2020, and to 50% below the 2000 level by 2040. The Executive Order also created the Climate Change Executive Committee under the direction of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to begin implementing Action Plan recommendations.

Arizona is a member State of The Climate Registry( a nonprofit partnership developing an accurate, complete, consistent and transparent greenhouse gas emissions measurement protocol that is capable of supporting voluntary and mandatory greenhouse gas emission reporting policies for its members.

Arizona is one of 29 states with a renewable energy portfolio standard.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) adopted the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff in 2006 which requires electric utility companies to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. Each utility must submit a plan for achieving the standard. The ACC recently approved Tucson Electric Power Company’s (TEP) plan.

The ACC also adopted a general rule for net metering that requires electric utilities to compensate individuals for the excess solar power they feed into the grid. Individuals that install solar panels now have the potential to get paid for the energy they are producing!

Western Governors’ Association Clean and Diversified Energy Initiative


Western governors are working collectively and individually to move the region toward a cleaner more diverse energy future. Through these efforts, the Western Governors are encouraging the region to utilize its diverse resources to produce affordable, sustainable, and environmentally responsible energy.