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Responsibly reducing carbon in the desert

SRP’s top sustainability executive explains how the 120-year-old utility ensures that customers, including businesses, schools, hospitals and households, have reliable and affordable energy as it works to reduce carbon emissions intensity. Bobby Olsen, Associate General Manager & Chief Planning, Strategy and Sustainability Executive, describes this approach as “responsible decarbonization.” 

Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the United States, according to, and providing reliable water and power to its 2 million residents is critical to ensuring that customers can go about their daily lives.  

It’s also a safety issue. In 2023, the Associated Press ranked Phoenix as America’s hottest large city, with 55 days at 110 degrees or higher and more than 130 days at 100 degrees or higher. Many summer nights failed to drop below 90 degrees, meaning that even a lack of desert sun couldn’t quell the heat.  

With temps like these, it’s easy to see how weather-related power outages like those seen in other states would put Arizonans at high risk during the summer.  

So as SRP’s service area experiences a dramatic increase in power use – including a projected 25% growth in demand by 2030 – we need the right balance of power sources to keep the lights on and the AC running. In fact, we’ll need to roughly double our existing power grid in the next decade to do so.  

10-year plan outlines how SRP can keep power reliable, affordable and sustainable 

As part of our recent Integrated System Planning (ISP) process, SRP met with stakeholder groups around the Valley, including low-income advocates, nonprofits, businesses and universities. The goal was to understand how our power generation strategies would need to evolve to meet their needs while taking both the Valley’s growth and a changing climate into account.  

During this process, we also conducted surveys and focus groups with customers. They made it clear that reliable and affordable power were their top concerns. Sustainability was also listed as important to customers, but not at the expense of higher bills or power outages on hot summer days. 

That’s why SRP’s long-term resource planning balances our goals for carbon reduction with our commitment to customers and the reliability and affordability they desire.  

We call this responsible decarbonization: Reliability, affordability and sustainability – done responsibly. 

Responsible decarbonization at work for a better Arizona 

We’re hard at work researching and testing the technology of tomorrow – like pumped storage, hydrogen hubs and long-duration energy storage. We’re investing in sustainable resources like wind and solar. And we’ve made one of the largest energy storage commitments in the West.  

But we’re also balancing those investments with flexible natural gas generation assets to avoid high prices and outages. With fast-ramping natural gas, we can ensure that customers don’t lose power on days like July 18, 2023, when our estimated retail peak demand reached a record-breaking 8,163 megawatts (MW) between 4 and 5 p.m., and that customers don’t pay extra by us relying on energy markets where high demand can cause price increases. 

We’re taking proven steps to achieve ambitious goals. Despite growth larger than nearly every other utility in the United States, SRP has managed to reduce carbon emissions by generation.   

But we’re not doing so at the expense of reliable, affordable power. Proven resources like quick-start, flexible natural gas keep Arizonans safe from power outages and higher bills while we transition to these renewable power sources.  

That’s sustainability done responsibly.  

    SRP’s commitment to sustainability

    We are dedicated to making decisions through the eyes of future generations.

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