Last Friday, Salt River Project, a utility that serves a third of Arizona, announced new ‘Sustainable Portfolio Priniciple’ goals. Perhaps you saw press accounts (Phoenix Business Times, Arizona Republic). What does it mean for renewable energy?
Well, it’s not totally clear. SRP announced that their new proposal is for 18% of their retail sales to be served by ‘Sustainable Resources’ by 2020. However, they define ’sustainable resources’ to include their pre-existing large hydroelectric fleet, energy efficiency and demand-side management programs, purchases of Renewable Energy Credits (which could simply mean an investment in a wind farm in Oregon, without any delivery of energy to AZ), as well as renewable energy projects. SRP also allows itself to bank surplus credits for exceeding its voluntary standard in any one year toward future year compliance (when SRP first announced its Sustainable Portfolio in 2006, this handy mechanism meant that it could theoretically continue its existing programs and not do anything new until about 2019). All told, there’s more wiggle room built into the announcement than in all of Studio 54.
In any event, earlier in the year SRP laid out a future procurement plan that would result in about 6.8% non-hydro renewable energy by 2020 (pdf), and it is not at all clear that their new proposal changes course when it comes to future renewable energy purchases.
SRP has made and is planning laudable investments in energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy. But when it comes to renewable energy specifically, the announcements of commitments to date do not rise to the level of what other utilities in the state are required to do, and far short of where neighboring states are going. SRP is not regulated by the ACC, and all previous attempts by the Legislature to increase SRP’s renewable energy investments have failed. Short of a ballot initiative, the only way to move the needle is to ask them nicely.
SRP’s official comment period closes today. If you would like them to do something different, take a look at what they’ve posted, and send them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.