SRP wants ACC to overturn Coolidge gasworks rejection
RANDOLPH, AZ – Salt River Project (SRP) has filed an application for new hearing and reconsideration of his request to expand its gas-fired power plant in Coolidge on Monday.
In a 4-1 decision in April, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) denied the utility’s request to increase plant capacity from 12 gas turbines to 28.
The ACC does not regulate the SRP but must approve the construction of major power generation projects in Arizona for an environmental compatibility certificate.
In its filing, the utility said that unless the decision is reversed, there is a “serious risk” that there will not be enough electricity available to meet demand from the summer 2024.
SRP Director Bobby Olsen told ABC15 that the expansion is one of several projects the utility plans to ramp up production over the next few years to accommodate the valley’s record growth. But he said schedules for other projects have been jeopardized by supply chain issues for battery storage, price revisions and a federal suspension of solar panel imports while the U.S. Commerce Department investigate whether some Asian suppliers are avoiding the tariffs.
“It has a huge chilling effect on projects. It’s not just about new projects,” he said. “SRP has over 1,300 megawatts of solar panel and battery projects in the pipeline that we expect to be live by 2024.
Environmental groups and members of the historically black community of Randolph, located next to the Coolidge plant, have vehemently opposed the expansion.
The Sierra Club sent a statement to ABC15 saying in part, “The record is clear as to why the Arizona Corporation Commission has denied and should continue to deny this environmental compatibility certificate for the plant, because it will harm to the community of Randolph and will worsen environmental injustice, contribute to air pollution in an area that already does not meet health air quality standards, further contribute to climate-damaging emissions, and cost dear to PRS taxpayers.
Randolph resident Jeff Jordan said the group was not surprised when an SRP representative told them about the request for reconsideration during a community meeting Friday morning.
“They (residents) expected SRP to file a new hearing,” he said.
Jordan said the community is aware that the Phoenix metro area needs additional power, but they just don’t want more right next to them.
“SRP said they want to be a good neighbor,” he said. “Why are you pushing us to expand then? Find another site, find another location and build your facility.”
But the utility says it’s not that simple.
“The reality is that we are not aware of any sites – despite our due diligence on the processes for selecting a site – there are none that we are sure we can bring these resources online by 2024. It’s really about those resources there.”
The RPS resource planning process was central to ACC’s rejection of its original application.
Chair Lea Marquez Peterson, Commissioners Sandra Kennedy and Anna Tovar all cited, among other reasons, the utility’s failure to conduct an expansion-specific request for proposals (RFP), contributing to incompleteness. demand.
Tenders are used by utilities to solicit competitive bids for various types of power generation.
In its new filing, the utility said the “Commission cannot legally deny the request on the basis that SRP did not conduct an additional request for proposals (RFP) for all sources” and called the decision ” arbitrary, unreasonable and illegal”.
Commissioner Justin Olson, who cast the only negative vote, also filed a letter on the docket asking the commissioners to reconsider the request and said the opposition “really was an attempt to stop any expansion of energy production natural gas.”
Another reason given by the commissioners was the potentially harmful environmental effects for Randolph. In its appeal, SRP said it was increasing its financial assistance to the community for mitigation with additional paved roads, installation of noise barriers, more landscaping and funding for the construction of a community center. .
The company says the pledge will increase from $14 million to $18 million and equate to approximately $120,000 per resident. By comparison, he says a similar program for the San Tan Power Plant in Gilbert cost about $1,250 per household.
For Jordan, no amount of money will be enough.
“It doesn’t stop pollution from entering your home, your community,” he said. “We can’t make one group happy and one small black, Hispanic, Native American minority suffer the consequences of everyone else.”
If the Commission does not respond to the request for a new hearing within 20 days of its filing, it will be considered refused. From that date, SRP would have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Superior Court according to an ACC spokesperson.