• Kate Boettcher

Take Action on the SRP Gas Expansion Today!

Updated: Apr 5

Update: The AZ Power And Line Siting Committee voted (7-2) to approve the Salt River Project's Certificate of Environmental Compatibility. This decision now moves on to the Arizona Corporation Commission who will make the final decision for the expansion to be approved or denied. Tell the Arizona Corporation Commission to VOTE NO on Fossil Gas!


HERE ARE THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY!

  1. Sign this petition that will go to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

  2. Sign up to speak virtually or by phone at this link on Tuesday March 15th.

  3. Submit written comments to the docket at this link by Tuesday March 22nd.

  4. Be sure to include the docket number which is ​​L-00000B-21-0393-00197. Under "Company Name," please type Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District. This ensures that the Arizona Corporation Commission will receive your comments for this specific case.

If you have any questions, please email Kate Boettcher at kate@ruralazaction.org.

 

The Coolidge Generating Station opened in 2011, five years after the Arizona Corporation Commission passed legislation to require Arizona utilities to produce at least 15% of their electricity by renewable energy by 2025. The generating station uses natural gas, a fossil fuel that accounts for 40% of US electricity generation and emits harmful gases that contribute to air pollution and the warming of our planet. Electricity from the Coolidge power plant serves residents of the Phoenix metro area who receive Salt River Project (SRP) power. The immediate air pollution and particulate matter that comes from the plant surrounds the historic Black community of Randolph who live directly next to the plant, receive no electricity from the plant, and have no vote in the decisions that the SRP Board makes about the power plant.


Last August, SRP announced plans to expand the Coolidge Generating Station by adding 16 new gas turbines to the existing plant. This expansion would add 820 megawatts of power, more than doubling the current capacity of the plant, which would lock our region into decades of air pollution and carbon emissions. In September, the SRP Board voted 8-6 to approve the project, after hearing hours of public testimony from community members and environmental advocates in opposition to the project. In December, SRP filed their Certificate of Environmental Compatibility to the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee. This is a committee that evaluates applications of power plants and transmission line projects in Arizona before they can be constructed. The committee was established by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), which regulates Arizona utility services, such as electricity, gas pipelines, and railroads. The filing of this certificate is the next step before the gas expansion can be constructed.


The ACC and the Power and Line Siting Committee have the power to do what the Salt River Project failed to do in meeting this moment. Climate change is caused by fossil gas power plants, like the one in Coolidge. Because climate change is such a complex and massive issue to tackle, we do not have a reality in which the majority of our decisions have been rooted in proactive measures to address the issue. It is rare that we get the chance to act proactively in the face of decisions that will further lock us into this climate crisis. Climate change and environmental justice are issues of policy. Policy-makers have the power to act on the current moment and listen to the 75% of Arizona voters who want to shift investments away from fossil fuels toward clean energy sources. This is the case especially in the direct area of the power plant, with nearly 300 people of the Randolph community signing a petition in opposition to the gas plant expansion. In late January 2022, the ACC voted down measures to establish clean energy rules that would require AZ utilities to produce half of their power by non-carbon emitting sources by 2035 and all of their power by non-carbon emitting sources by 2070. This decision reverts us back to the law established in 2006 that requires only 15% of power to be produced by renewables before 2025. While public and private utility companies can establish their own carbon emission goals, it is not enough to rely on word of mouth instead of established law for an issue as crucial as our climate future. We must look at the actions of these utility companies to understand their priorities. Approving an expansion that more than doubles the size of a fossil fuel power plant during this crisis is completely misaligned with what our community needs.


Prior to the pandemic, Arizona was experiencing record levels of growth in solar jobs, ranking number six in the United States for solar employment. Often, fossil fuel companies emphasize the jobs they can provide to local communities and claim that projects are sustainable because of the fiscal benefit. We must go beyond the idea that the only value in the jobs that we create for our communities is monetary. Prioritizing a fossil gas expansion that will emit harmful pollutants and require massive amounts of groundwater to operate for decades to come is not sustainable for our community. It is vital that we take action and urge the AZ Power and Line Siting Committee and the ACC to reject this proposal.


On Monday, February 7th, 2022, the Arizona Power and Line Siting Committee will hold public hearings for this proposal. Their recommendation to either approve, reject, or require changes in the certificate will go to the Arizona Corporation Commission, who will have a final say before the project can be constructed. We all deserve to be included in policy decisions that will directly affect our community and our environment. We must stand with our Randolph neighbors by opposing this project. Please urge the Power and Line Siting Committee and the ACC to reject this proposal. The health and safety of our community and the future of our environment depend on these decisions.

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