Hydropower, Solar

Salt River Project’s Renewable Plans Fall Short of Arizona Standards

Salt River Project, a utility that is not regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission, has launched a public process to revise its voluntary ‘Sustainable Portfolio Principles.’

Using data provided by SRP, analysis shows that SRP’s current plans would result in non-hydro renewable energy resources comprising about 6.8% of SRP’s total retail sales in 2020. (Note: This calculation assumes 1.2% annual load growth, and factors in the current renewable generation, specific plans through 2012, and uses an assumed average capacity factor of 25% for the 470 MW of undifferentiated new renewable generation that SRP plans for 2020. Depending on actual types of resources that SRP invests in, actual figures may be higher or lower.  Conversations with SRP staff indicate that the figure ‘is in the ballpark’ of utility estimates.

This figure is significantly less than the requirement for ACC-regulated utilities, which will reach 10% by 2020 and 15% by 2025.  And other utilities in the state are making plans to exceed those requirements.  Arizona Public Service, for, example, committed to achieve 10% renewable energy by 2015 in its 2009 General Rate Case Settlement, and included in the RES Implementation Plan. 

While SRP’s renewable energy efforts are laudable, they fall short of what other utilities in the state are doing.  APS is planning to do twice as much in half the time.  As SRP revisits its voluntary standard, we urge them to consider taking a leadership position.

“Congresswoman Giffords has worked very hard over the past four years to advance solar energy in Arizona and across our great nation. She knows that solar makes sense for our economy, our environment and our national security,” said Pia Carusone, the congresswoman’s chief of staff.

“Congresswoman Giffords believes that solar energy’s potential in Arizona is limitless. Fortunately, she is not alone. SRP, as one of the largest electricity providers in the state, recognizes that solar’s potential impacts are wide-ranging. The utility has a successful solar program and our office hopes they can expand it.”

SRP’s plans also lag far behind the higher renewable energy goals set by neighboring states.  A year ago, building upon a voter-approved ballot initiative, Colorado passed legislation requiring 30% renewables by 2020.  Nevada recently set a standard of 20% by 2020. And California’s utilities are required to reach 33% by 2020.

“SRP has always impressed me as a forward-thinking, publically-minded utility; I would hope they will continue in that vein as we move toward a more sustainable energy future in Arizona,” said Martin J. Pasqualetti.

SRP’s lower targets miss a significant opportunity to harness the economic and job creation benefits of a local renewable energy market. Solar, for example, creates more jobs per megawatt than any other energy resource. Those are high-quality employment opportunities across the full spectrum of solar’s supply chain. Jobs related to solar construction and installation are inherently local.

Municipal and state government agencies, as well as Arizona universities and community colleges, have also invested heavily in making Arizona a destination of choice for solar manufacturing.  By increasing solar and renewable energy development, SRP would reduce the flow of money going to purchase natural gas in New Mexico and Texas and instead reinvest those energy dollars in the local economy.

“Investing in renewables like solar is an important step SRP should take for their customers to provide a hedge against the volatility of the energy markets. By meaningfully diversifying the ways they produce energy, they will benefit Arizonans well into the future.  Using sunshine, our most abundant resource, just makes sense,” said Tina Beattie of Republicans for Environmental Protection.

“An investment in solar is an investment in Arizona.  Solar can be keystone to Arizona’s economic renaissance,” said Mark Holohan, Solar Division Manager at Wilson Electric.

SRP is collecting comments from the public on its plan until April 4