- A new analysis performed by ICF for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concludes Arizona's Palo Verde nuclear plant will not be forced to close, should the state enact a 50% renewable portfolio standard, which may appear on the ballot in November.
- The research contradicts claims made by Arizona Public Service (APS), which operates and owns part of the plant, that the proposed ballot initiative could cost the state more than two thousand jobs.
- ICF's analysis concluded that as the largest nuke in the country, Palo Verde has economies of scale that make it capable of continuing to operate profitably in an environment of low-cost gas and renewable power.
When it comes to Arizona's energy future, NRDC wants to reassure voters (and regulators) that boosting renewables isn't going to cost their neighbors' jobs.
In a blog post explaining its findings, NRDC said the Palo Verde nuclear plant "stays open and operates around-the-clock, even as utilities build enough renewable energy capacity, like wind and solar farms, to meet a 50 percent by 2030 renewable portfolio standard."
The research considered two scenarios: in one, utilities subject to the state's 15% by 2025 Renewable Energy Standard would have to meet a 50% standard by 2030. In the other, utilities APS and Tucson Electric Power build almost 6 GW of new gas-fired plants, matching their long-term resource plans.
"Palo Verde stays open in all cases," NRDC concluded. "The choice Arizonans face in November is whether to power their future with renewable energy or with carbon-emitting gas. The continued operation of Palo Verde is not threatened by a 50 percent RPS."
The 50% RPS ballot initiative is backed by super PAC NextGen America and billionaire Tom Steyer. Supporters must collect almost a quarter million signatures by July 5 to place the measure on the ballot.
APS and some Republicans have floated a ballot initiative of their own that would amend the state's constitution to set a 50% renewables goal by 2030 — but with caveats. Their measure would also allow regulators to set the requirements aside if it would raise customers' bills or hurt reliability.
Michigan utilities DTE Energy and CMS Energy reached a deal with environmentalists in May to end a similar ballot initiative, agreeing to a goal of 50% clean energy by 2030.