Energy efficiency policy in Arizona: public participation and expert consultation in the policy implementation process
Many different levels of government, organizations, and programs actively shape the future of energy in Arizona, a state that lacks a comprehensive energy plan. Disparate actions by multiple actors may slow the energy policy process rather than expedite it. The absence of a state energy policy or plan raises questions about how multiple actors and ideas engage with state energy policy development and whether the absence of a comprehensive state plan can be understood. Improving how policy development is conceptualized and giving more focused attention to the mechanisms by which interested parties become involved in shaping Arizona energy policy. To explore these questions, I examine the future energy efficiency. Initially, public engagement mechanisms were examined for their role in policy creation from a theoretical perspective. Next a prominent public engagement forum that was dedicated to the topic of the Arizona's energy future was examined, mapping its process and conclusions onto a policy process model. The first part of this thesis involves an experimental expert consultation panel which was convened to amplify and refine the results of a public forum. The second part utilizes an online follow up survey to complete unfinished ideas from the focus group. The experiment flowed from a hypothesis that formal expert discussion on energy efficiency policies, guided by the recommendations put forth by the public engagement forum on energy in Arizona, would result in an increase in relevance while providing a forum for interdisciplinary collaboration that is atypical in today's energy discussions. This experiment was designed and evaluated utilizing a public engagement framework that incorporated theoretical and empirical elements. Specifically, I adapted elements of three methods of public and expert engagement used in policy development to create a consultation process that was contextualized to energy efficiency stakeholders in Arizona and their unique constraints. The goal of the consultation process was to refine preferences about policy options by expert stakeholders into actionable goals that could achieve advancement on policy implementation. As a corollary goal, the research set out to define implementation barriers, refine policy ideas, and operationalize Arizona-centric goals for the future of energy efficiency.