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Why SRP asked the ACC to reconsider its vote on the Coolidge Expansion Project 

Editor’s Note: On February 17, SRP filed a notice of appeal with respect to the January 20 Superior Court decision to affirm the ACC’s previous denial of the Coolidge Expansion Project’s Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC). SRP is seeking to appeal directly to the Arizona Supreme Court. SRP believes the Superior Court decision was incorrect regarding its interpretation and application of the factors that must be considered under the Arizona line siting statute, and that the Superior Court should have granted SRP’s appeal.

SRP maintains the flexible-fast ramping Coolidge Expansion Project is the best option to meet our customers’ energy needs without compromising reliability. It also remains the best option to enable SRP’s efforts to reliably add to its robust portfolio of renewable resources, such as 2,025 megawatts of solar energy which will be online by 2025, and over 800 megawatts of battery storage projects online by 2024, which is enough to power more than 180,000 average size homes for up to four hours.

Proven resources like the Coolidge Expansion Project are critical to preserving SRP’s record of reliable, affordable and sustainable power.

This April the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted to deny SRP a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC) to expand a quick-start, peaking natural gas plant in Coolidge.  

SRP filed the application for a CEC through the ACC, and the project cannot move forward without the ACC’s approval. Because the ACC’s decision could have critical consequences for the Valley, we’re asking them to reconsider.  

ACC vote goes against expert recommendations 

In voting to deny the CEC, the ACC rejected the recommendation of its own Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee. 

This Committee is tasked by the ACC to do a deep dive into the facts and data of each project. For the Coolidge Expansion Project, the Committee spent eight days carefully reviewing the details of the proposal. They looked at data on how the project would comply with state and federal regulations. They reviewed and listened to public comment, and they took lengthy testimony.  

After this well-researched and thorough review, the Line Siting Committee found the need for the project both critical and urgent. They also found that the project was environmentally compatible and met all necessary requirements, and they voted 7-2 to issue the CEC. 

Despite the issuance of the CEC by the Line Siting Committee, the ACC voted to deny the CEC for the Coolidge Expansion Project.  

Balancing a sustainable and reliable energy future

Utilities in the Southwest are facing many challenges right now. SRP is no different. Arizona’s population is growing fast, and the demand for power is growing too.  

For over a century, we’ve met the Valley’s needs through careful planning and innovation. Today, that means balancing aggressive sustainability goals — acting as a leading voice in the transition to cleaner energy — with our mission to deliver reliable, affordable power to people in the Valley. 

The expansion of Coolidge Generating Station doesn’t change SRP’s commitment or plans to reduce carbon. In fact, the emissions from Coolidge will be more than offset by the reduction in carbon emissions from SRP’s new renewable resources.   

As mentioned earlier, Coolidge is a quick-start, peaking plant. That means it will only be used when demand for energy is especially high, like during a hot summer afternoon in the Valley. The turbines at this modern facility can ramp up to help us meet demand for electricity in as little as 10 minutes. With this technology, we can operate as few or as many turbines as needed. In other words, energy generation at the Coolidge plant is not only reliable, but also incredibly flexible.  

By adding capacity at Coolidge, with plans to run the plant for only a few hundred hours per year, we can support the transition to cleaner energy and integrate more solar, battery and other renewable resources into the grid. We can also ensure that our customers — and the region at large — have access to power all the time, even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.   

This is the best of both worlds; it means both reliable and sustainable power for our customers.  

Cleaner energy for a brighter future 

SRP is working to add more clean and renewable energy sources to our energy mix every day. By 2025, half of our power generation will come from carbon-free resources. By that same year, we plan to install 2,025 megawatts (MW) of new solar energy, enough to power more than 450,000 average-size homes. We plan to add 500 MW of battery storage by 2023 — one of the largest battery storage commitments in the West. 

Ensuring that our customers have reliable power isn’t as simple as adding more renewable energy sources, however. It’s important to recognize that battery storage technology is still developing, and we can’t yet count on it to reliably meet the Valley’s needs.  

Proven and reliable resources

When energy from renewable resources isn’t available, traditional energy sources, such as natural gas and nuclear power, provide essential backup power. These resources are proven and reliable — that’s why we call them “the reliability backbone of the power grid.”  

Traditional energy sources strengthen and protect the grid, especially during Arizona’s hot summer months, when the Valley’s energy needs are at their highest. That is why the Coolidge Expansion Project is so critical for our communities and Arizona’s transition to a clean energy future. 

Support for the Randolph community  

Asking the ACC to reconsider its decision is not a request we take lightly. The Coolidge plant is located near Randolph and SRP recognizes and respects Randolph’s unique and important history as an African American community. SRP is committed to preserving the vitality of Randolph and supporting the community long-term. As with all the communities we operate in, our goal is to ensure that these residents thrive in their homes for decades to come.     

As part of the initial CEC approval, we proposed — and the Line Siting Committee approved — millions of dollars for projects to mitigate the impacts of the expansion and support the community, including paving roads in and around the community that will offset emissions from the expansion, scholarships and job training, and landscaping to screen the expansion and beautify the area.  

With the appeal, we’re proposing additional measures, including additional road paving, home repairs and energy efficiency improvements, and building a community center. If the proposal is approved, these measures total nearly $18 million in mitigation and community support.

Securing a clean energy future

Projects like the Coolidge Expansion Project are critical to preserving Arizona’s record of reliable, affordable and sustainable power, which is why we’re asking the ACC to revisit its decision. Granting a CEC for the proposed Coolidge Expansion Project will ensure our ability to add even more renewable resources to the power grid and secure a clean energy future for all Arizonans.   

Read our press release to learn more. 

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1 thought on “Why SRP asked the ACC to reconsider its vote on the Coolidge Expansion Project ”

  1. Wendy Marshall

    I am deeply disturbed that the ACC turned down the original request for the Coolidge peaking plant, especially given the strong recommendation for approval from its own Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee. Either the members of the ACC really don’t understand the role of peaking plants as essential to back up renewable resources when they are not available which is frightening OR it is a heavy-handed tactic to insist that SRP spend an extraordinary amount of money to benefit the small community of Randolph in order to allow SRP to fulfill its mission to provide reliable power to millions of people in the Valley. Hopefully the ACC will quit playing politics and do the right thing!

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