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The US state of Arizona’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS) has announced its goal to deliver 100% clean, carbon-free electricity to its customers by 2050.

APS’s ambitious plan outlines critical steps to reaching its goal, including reaching 65% clean energy by 2030 with renewables making up 45% of that total.

The utility also announced its plan to close its coal power plants, the Cholla Power Plant in Arizona by 2025 and the Four Corners Power Plant in New Mexico by 2031.

APS will end all coal-fired generation by 2031, seven years sooner than previously projected.

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To minimise rate increases for its customers, APS will recruit customers, particularly manufacturers and data centres among others, to come to its territory to defray the infrastructure costs.

“We see incredible things ahead for Arizona, and are excited to power our state’s future with electricity that is 100% clean,” said APS Chairman and CEO Jeff Guldner. “We’re starting from an energy mix that is 50% clean today, including energy efficiency and electricity from one of the nation’s largest solar fleets and the country’s most powerful carbon-free and clean energy resource – the Palo Verde Generating Station.

“This is an important day for APS, our customers and Arizona. Our clean energy plan will be guided by sound science and will encourage market-based solutions to climate issues. Through increased collaboration with our customers, regulators and other stakeholders, we expect to achieve environmental and economic gains without undermining our commitment to affordable, reliable service,” Guldner said.

Pathways to 100 Percent Clean

On the journey to a carbon-free future, APS plans to ensure reliability and affordability through intelligent investments in renewable resources and developing technologies, nuclear power produced at Palo Verde Generating Station and energy efficiency and other programs for customers.

Achieving this 100% clean goal while maintaining reliability of service at affordable rates for customers also will rely on:

  • Existing power sources in the near term, including some natural gas, as APS makes a sensible transition to clean generating resources. In time, APS expects technological advances to eliminate the need to supplement renewable energy with even low-emitting carbon resources like natural gas in order to maintain reliable service around the clock at reasonable prices.
  • Continued modernisation of the electric grid as APS builds an advanced infrastructure that is more responsive and resilient, supports more renewables, minimises outages and provides customers more choice and control over their energy decisions.
  • Energy storage solutions to increase the effectiveness of renewable resources and provide more clean energy to customers after the sun has set. These will include APS’s previously announced plans for an 850-megawatt expansion of large-scale energy storage, mostly paired with the company’s innovative solar farms.
  • Policy decisions that leverage market-based technology and innovation and keep Arizona and its utility industry an attractive place to invest.
  • Electrification of the state’s different economic sectors, particularly the transportation sector and specific building applications. In addition to supporting affordability for utility customers, electrification will drive a cleaner environment and more energy-efficient operations throughout the economy.
  • Evolving regional and market-based solutions such as participation in the Western Energy Imbalance Market, which is saving customers tens of millions of dollars each year.

Collaboration Will Be Fundamental to Success

After the Integrated Resource Plan process in 2018, Arizona’s experience with Proposition 127 and the Arizona Corporation Commission’s efforts to update the state’s energy rules, APS took a hard look at its generation mix and future plans. APS spent more than a year engaged with a variety of stakeholders including customers, business organisations and non-governmental organisations. This plan reflects those experiences and discussions.

Collaboration with stakeholders and regulators will be key to the plan’s ultimate success, with full transparency regarding APS’s roadmap and progress through Arizona’s established process of Integrated Resource Plans. Flexibility, reliability and affordability will remain fundamental planning principles that will guide the addition of carbon-free resources at a reasonable cost and on pace and scale with customers’ growing and changing energy needs.

“Our existing generation facilities, employees and communities have made possible the affordable and reliable energy APS has delivered to customers for decades,” Guldner said. “As we set out to generate only clean power by 2050, it will mean transitioning away from coal. We do not take that transition lightly, and are committed to working with our employees and stakeholders on the economic and other effects of retiring those assets.”

Economic development is a huge area of focus for the state. As Arizona and the Greater Phoenix region continue their maturation into a major tech hub, it’s also critical that state utilities embrace renewable energy technologies that not only have a much lower environmental impact but provide increased energy independence and drive economic development to help companies grow. Additionally, Arizona businesses are increasingly demanding electricity to power their business operations to come from renewable sources.

The US energy transition is a key focus at DISTRIBUTECH 2021 on March 30 – April 1, 2021 | Orlando, Florida.
Click here to register your attendance and find out how you can contribute to North America’s smart energy future.