Coolidge, AZ

Salt River Project to consider new options for Coolidge plant following expansion plan rejection

Jeremy Beren

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Solar panels covering a parking lot near ASU's Tempe campus. SRP's headquarters are located just a few miles from the campus.Tony Webster/Flickr

By Jeremy Beren / NewsBreak Pinal County, AZ

(Tempe, Ariz.) — Following the unveiling of its new Central Line Solar plant on Wednesday, the Salt River Project has shared with NewsBreak a statement regarding the Arizona Corporation Commission vote that rejected the utilities provider's plans to expand its Coolidge Generation Station in Pinal County.

In a public session on April 12, the ACC voted 4-1 to deny SRP a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility to expand the Coolidge facility. In doing so, the ACC rejected a recommendation from its own Line Siting Committee.

One source told NewsBreak that the Coolidge gas plant expansion would have cost nearly $1 billion if it had been approved.

"SRP will continue to evaluate what generation and market options to pursue in the near-term to address the resource challenge this decision creates for serving our customers with reliable, affordable, sustainable energy," the statement read.

Though Tempe-based SRP insisted its proposal would not negatively affect its plans to reduce its carbon intensity in the coming years, the Coolidge expansion would have directly impacted the adjacent Randolph community. Activists in the historically-Black community and from around Arizona vigorously protested SRP's plan to push ahead on construction.

"SRP proposed the expansion to Coolidge Generating Station to provide reliable power to its rapidly growing customer base during times of peak electricity demand and will help SRP to reliably integrate more renewable energy resources into the power grid," the statement said. "In its application, SRP noted that it would comply with all state and federal air quality regulations which are protective of human health and the environment.

"SRP remains committed to reducing carbon intensity by more than 65% in 2035 and by 90% in 2050 from 2005 levels. SRP's sustainability commitments include a pledge to add 2,025 MW of new utility-scale solar energy to SRP’s renewable portfolio by 2025 and 450 MW of battery storage by 2023, one of the largest battery storage commitments in the West."

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Jeremy is a freelance journalist covering health, energy, labor, and local politics. Reach him at jeremy.beren@newsbreak.com.

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