Arizona utility regulator proposes emergency summit to tackle possible coal plant shutdown
- Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin wants an "emergency summit" to address the potential job losses related to closing down the Navajo Generating Station—a plan being considered by Salt River Project, which is not regulated by Arizona.
- However, Tobin wrote to SRP President David Rousseau and asked they reconsider shuttering the plant, citing 3,000 potential job losses, primarily among Native Americans, and new options that might be available under President Trump's administration.
- SRP is considering shutting down the NGS units when their lease expires in 2019 due to changes in the lease and emissions standards that will drive up the cost of power.
Costs at the Navajo Generating Station have escalated and owner SRP is looking for a gas-fired replacement. But Tobin, in the wake of President Trump's election, wants to know if a new set of environmental policies might change the accounting.
"SRP should explain its accounting of regulatory changes that might occur under President Trump’s administration," Tobin wrote.
While the Arizona Corporation Commission does not regulate SRP, Tobin said the commission can "instruct SRP’s partners at NGS (Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP), and I may offer such a proposal in the very near future.”
Tobin's letter is fairly scathing, and cites previous assurances from the company that the facility would not be closed. "Arizonans deserve to know how and when SRP determined NGS was no longer economical to operate," he said.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory last year issued analysis that pegged the cost of power generated at NGS at $38/MWh, compared with $32 in 2015. After 2019, that cost will rise to $41/MWh, reflecting terms of a new lease, and then $51/MWh in 2030 due to emissions standards.
Tobin stressed that almost 3,000 Navajo Nation jobs are in jeopardy, and they face "economic devestation."
"SRP must fully explain to the tribes and the people of Arizona how it plans to address the human toll the company will cause if NGS closes," he wrote.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation owns about a quarter of the NGS plant, while SRP claims 43%. Arizona Public Service Co., NV Energy and Tucson Electric Power own the rest of the units.
- Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioner Andy Tobin Calls on SRP to find Alternative to Shutting Down Navajo Generating Station
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