Dr. Eve Shapiro, M.D., spoke at a TEP rate case hearing on Monday, January 13, to a full house of more than 100 people. She shares her comments from the meeting and urges all citizens to speak up about their concerns.
“We have been a TEP customer since moving to Tucson 33 years ago. I am also a pediatrician and have been concerned about the health effects of climate change for many years and have been involved in advocacy efforts through Physicians for Social Responsibility. Personally, we do what we can to reduce the use of fossil fuels. My husband and I had solar panels installed 12 years ago and we drive an electric car. My husband is a bike commuter. We do what we can, but to have a real impact on climate change, it is important that utilities and corporations step up and do their part.
I am very concerned that TEP is clinging to expensive, fossil fuels despite the decreasing costs of renewable energy and cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency. It is increasingly clear that coal fired plants cause significant health effects due to air pollution and particulates. Fracked natural gas was recently the subject of an article in the NEJM titled “The False Promise of Natural Gas”, outlining the hazards to health and the environment at all stages of its life cycle. Of particular concern is methane leaks, since methane is a potent contributor to global warming, with a heat-trapping potential 30 times greater than that of carbon dioxide.
Although TEP touts its commitment to renewables, the pace of change is much too slow. Do we need to wait until we have a crisis like Australia is currently experiencing?
I do support the closing of the NGS, but TEP has an obligation to the Navajo and Hopi people to support their transition to alternative jobs. We have all benefited from the cheap energy supplied by the plant without bearing the health effects of those communities living and working at or near the plant. It is time to repay those costs by funding economic development and renewable energy projects.
In addition, the $15 fixed charge is unfair. Electricity should be charged based on how much is used, to encourage energy efficient behavior.
I urge you to tell TEP to revise its proposal and come back with a proposal that takes all these factors into account.”