The Arizona Corporation Commission has directed its staff to develop a set of rules to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050, said Commission Chair Robert Burns in a letter on Wednesday.
Commissioner Sandra Kennedy wrote the same day that while she preferred a standard of 100% clean energy by 2040, because “the science is clear regarding the need for aggressive decarbonization,” she would support a 2050 deadline to achieve majority agreement.
Commissioner Lea Marquez Peterson voiced her support for 100% clean energy by 2050 in a letter last week. The three commissioners constitute a majority of the five-member commission, and a fourth commissioner, Boyd Dunn, voiced his support for the standard in an informal “vote” called by Chairman Burns at a recent meeting, said a press release from conservation group Western Resource Advocates.
Burns said in his letter that “when it comes to renewable energy resources, I believe everyone agrees that these costs are dropping.” As evidence, he provided a link to recent renewable energy prices in Arizona and the West, published by WesternGrid.net.
Burns also noted recently established Commission requirements for utilities to develop an integrated resource plan (IRP), a process in which the Commission will oversee both the utility’s load forecast and its all-source request for proposals, and consider stakeholder input. The utility must then choose its future resources from the results of the RFP. “The IRP process is the most important/crucial part of the rules we will be adopting,” Burns wrote.
Kennedy in her letter added that “energy efficiency is the least cost resource, while renewable energy and battery storage technologies are consistently beating out natural gas and other resources on price. This is the case even when social costs of carbon, water use, coal ash, and other externalities are not included in the pricing.”
Western Resource Advocates is one of 32 groups, shown below, calling for Arizona to reach 50% renewables by 2030, up from about 7% now, which is mostly solar. The groups also call for 100% clean energy by 2045, and define “clean” as emitting no carbon dioxide—a technology-neutral standard that would permit solar, wind, nuclear, and gas with carbon capture and storage, said Adam Stafford, Western Resource Advocates’ staff attorney in Phoenix.
Fourteen other states have mandates or goals for 100% clean or renewable electricity by 2050 or earlier, as do Washington, DC and Puerto Rico, as shown in the map above from Advanced Energy Economy.
The Arizona Corporation Commission is the state’s “co-equal, fourth branch of government,” says a commission press release. It was established by the state constitution to regulate public utilities, and its members are elected by the voters of Arizona.
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I am curious about the Palo Verde plant. It would take millions of wind turbines and miles of solar to equal just one of its several reactors. Do they plan on shutting it down?
If you read the article, they define “clean” as emitting no carbon dioxide—a technology-neutral standard that would permit solar, wind, nuclear, and gas with carbon capture and storage.
Even so, Palo Verde has three 1.4GW turbines. A standard onshore wind turbine puts out about 3MW, so you would need about 1,400 wind turbines to equal the nameplate capacity, not millions.
If you look at a map of Arizona’s more reliable wind farm ‘areas’, overall, Arizona doesn’t have great swaths of natural wind current resources in the State as a whole. Wind resources could be found in the North Western part of the State around Kingman and Flagstaff and some along the I-10 corridor. Even at that, there is a movement by home developments like (Mandalay) that are building aggregate solar PV communities with their own micro-grids that supply better than 50% of the power needed for the housing tract a day. APS and SRP are on an aggressive roll out of energy storage facilities constructed along the grid and additions to current online solar PV projects already installed. SRP in Arizona has several 100MW energy storage projects in the que and a goal of 1,000MW of distributed energy storage by 2025. So, during the renewable initiative process that was voted down by the public at large, APS went on a campaign that “stated” a 50% REC by 2030 would cost on ‘average’ $1,000/year more on electric bills or $83/month to every electric bill increase by 2030. Right now APS has a rate case before the ACC for an electric rate increase of 5.6%. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
The original intent was to decommission the plant by 2030-35, if enough energy storage is installed along the grid and further penetration of solar PV generation both residential, business and utility scale the plant may not be needed anymore. There is ‘talk’ of going to the NRC and an attempt to extend the operating license of the plant for 20 years. As far as ‘nuclear plants’ go, Palo Verde is one of the largest generation output nuclear plants in the U.S.. This plant uses recycled waste water pumped through the plant from Phoenix a 26 mile pipeline to cool the reactors. It is probably one of the (most) efficient nuclear plants running in the U.S. at this time. Electric utility SRP is looking ahead 20 or more years and thinks SMR nuclear will be some of the generation equipment installed in the future. As of yet the NRC doesn’t have a ‘firm’ SMR design permitted for mass construction and as we know the Palo Verde nuclear LWR gigawatt generation facilities cost way too much to construct anymore. Reference, see the cost over runs on the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia.
I’d say on the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, extend its operation period, install a 2GW energy storage system at the output of the facility and run the plant at its most efficient generation point for the rest of its operational lifetime. California’s going to need this much power for Southern California alone, the infrastructure is already in place. Large scale energy storage would enable the most cost effective use of the generated power coming out of the plant for years to come.
“Commissioner Sandra Kennedy wrote the same day that while she preferred a standard of 100% clean energy by 2040, because “the science is clear regarding the need for aggressive decarbonization,” she would support a 2050 deadline to achieve majority agreement.”
How cavalier, is ‘she’ going to back this ‘play’ and at the same time protect the public from rate cases that will increase electric rates across the entire service area for the next several years? Right now the ACC is reviewing a 5.6% rate increase to electric rates to ‘cover’ poor management decisions to spend about $111 million in 2015 to install scrubbers in the four corners coal fired plant located in New Mexico, that will become “stranded assets”. Part of that 5.6% increase is retrofitting the Ocotillo Power station by replacing old steam cycle generation with gas turbines. There is NO indication APS actually used the RFP competitive bid process to see if a mix of solar PV and energy storage could do the same thing for less and at a better amortization period than the present course of action. See Arizona ACC docket #E-01345A-19-0236 for the proposal APS wants a 5.6% rate increase for. Arizona hasn’t heard the rate cases for future planned 850MW of installed energy storage APS has announced last year.
Arizona requires about 300GW of Solar Power to meets ALL its Energy needs (400TWhr/yr)…. why wait till 2050…. why not asap….
Why can Arizona not build 30GW/yr PV Power for 10 Years and save many Premature Deaths and Suffering (asthma” cardiac) of Arizona Residents too.
If Agrivoltaics is utilized,that use the SAME LAND SIMULATANEOUSLY, to produce Food and Generate Electricity… it would greatly increase the Productivity of the Land too…. while reducing Evaporation Losses substantially too…. from a very scarce resource in Arizona…. WATER..
300GW of AgriVoltaics would require about One Million Acres.
At present…. Arizona has about 4Million Acres of Irrigated Land and potentially a total of 20 Million Acres, but limited by water.
With respect to Nuclear Power in Arizona…. you have already trapped future generations (100,000 years) with Deadly Radioactive Waste… NO ONE WANTS…. and the only responsible thing to do is…. shut them down asap as PV/Agrivoltaics provide Arizona with a Clean, Green & Sustaibable Energy Future.
With (respect) to nuclear power your talking points are based on old reactor technology and the prejudice that goes with them. SMR has been under scrutiny since about 2014 by the NRC. Some ‘other’ players in reactor design have actually come up with reactor designs that can burn the remilled old LWR “spent” fuel rods until the waste stream is reduced in the (mass) of toxic waste that needs to be dealt with (TerraPower). I understand that some “reactor” designs don’t use Uranium, but other actinides that are less toxic (Thorium), so, if you want to take about 40 to 45% of the electricity needs of the U.S. that will be required to “fill the tanks” of a future all electric transportation sector, there will still be a need for extremely high density energy generation available. Right now fission is the only option. Fission can be done in many fashions with different “fuels” that are easier to deal with. IF fusion becomes an actual over unity generation resource, then solar PV and or wind generation isn’t really needed anymore. Right now the only fusion harvest technology over unity is the Solar PV panel, so here we are.
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