Amy Dominguez, firstname.lastname@example.org
TEMPE, AZ. -- On Monday morning, local community members and clean energy advocates came together at Salt River Project (SRP) Headquarters to push back on the harm that the utility has caused by propping up fossil gas, and to present the People’s Energy Plan, reflecting how SRP can advance a clean energy by utilizing carbon-free resources.
Since SRP adopted its 2035 sustainability plan in 2019, it has proposed significant increases in fossil gas plants, including at the Coolidge, Agua Fria, and Desert Basin generating stations, and more recently at the Copper Crossing solar facility. While promising emissions reductions and community engagement, SRP is instead delivering a lack of transparency and further reliance on dirty fossil fuels, especially fossil gas. SRP recently scored an F in The Dirty Truth About Utility Climate Pledges, a report that examines utilities’ performance on retiring existing coal plants by 2030, terminating plans to build new gas plants, and building clean energy.
Arizona is in the bullseye of climate change, already experiencing extreme weather impacts such as extreme heat, flash floods, prolonged drought, and larger wildfires. Instead of doubling down on fossil fuels as SRP continues to do, the People’s Energy Plan underscores how SRP can and should be a leader among Arizona’s utilities in developing clean, renewable energy, transitioning away from reliance on coal and gas.
The People’s Energy Plan was a culmination of direct feedback from everyday hardworking people, community leaders, and stakeholders who have strongly voiced what they would like to see from SRP and modeled by Strategen. It provides analysis recommending that the utility:
- Avoid or cease expenditures on gas units
- Reassess dates for retirement of or exit from coal-fired generating facilities
- Continue investing in and supporting demand side (energy efficiency) resources
- Set meaningful carbon reduction targets
- Explore all options and incentives available through the Inflation Reduction Act
Arizonans widely support the transition to clean energy and 691 community members have signed on to a petition demanding that the SRP board adopt the People’s Energy Plan that centers equity, clean energy efficiency, and renewable energy.
“Historically SRP has demonstrated that it will continue to prioritize dirty fossil fuels that threaten public health. We’ve seen it time and time again with the gas plants at the Coolidge expansion project, Copper Crossing , Agua Fria Generating Station, Desert Basin power plant, and investments in the Santan and Gila River power plants. Arizonans deserve better, and the People’s Energy Plan details how SRP can serve the best interests of its customers by increasing investments in renewables and energy efficiency instead of increasing gas-fired generation that emits greenhouse gasses into the air and harms our health and our climate.” - Sandy Bahr, Director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter
“Our community has experienced significant environmental injustice over the last few decades, including more air pollution like that from the Coolidge Generating Station. It is why we opposed SRP’s expansion of Coolidge and why I am supportive of a clean energy path for the utility, so my community of Randolph and other communities like mine will not be burdened with more pollution and the health impacts that go with it.” - Ron Jordan, long-time resident of Randolph, Arizona
“At Rural Arizona Action, we believe that policies and systems of governance must be grounded in equity and be led by the communities who we serve. We urge the Salt River Project to support the People’s Energy Plan and commit to a more inclusive and accountable process in their Integrated System Plan. It must be led by both SRP customers and people outside of their power and water districts who are impacted by the facilities they operate.” - Natalí Fierros Bock Co-Executive Director, Rural Arizona Engagement
"We support the Sierra Club’s alternative resource plan, the People’s Energy Plan, because SRP has demonstrated that they are not committed to a transparent stakeholder process, their prior resource plans have been highly inaccurate, and unlike the other major utilities in the state, they have consistently revealed a bias in favor of new fossil fueled generation. Their current plan is vetted by an invite-only group of stakeholders. That group does not include a single renewables-focused organization. This highly curated list that excludes renewables stakeholders reflects a bias against solar, wind, and storage technologies." - Autumn Johnson, Executive Director of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA)
“Reliance on natural gas is a national security risk. As we've seen with the attacks on the Nord Stream pipeline, relying on fossil fuels from other countries gives our adversaries leverage. We should be doing everything in our power to scale back on fossil fuels, not expand them." - Chad “Doc” Flannery, Clean Energy Program Manager, Vets Forward
"We see the climate crisis escalate and know we can’t delay the transition away from fossil fuels any longer. We are calling on SRP to make the right choice; Invest in our future health and wellbeing." - Alex Ross, Community Organizing Program Manager, Defend Our Future
"Mi Familia Vota Education Fund encourages the SRP to fulfill the necessary steps towards clean energy that includes transparency and shows respect towards the present time as well as the future of our communities." - Sheril Steinberg, Political and Advocacy Director, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund
“The People’s Energy Plan offers a detailed outline for a more balanced and renewable approach to our energy needs. And that’s ultimately where faith, science and practicality all come together: in the creation of systems that serve the needs of the people in harmony with the deeper rhythms of the natural world.” - Rev. Tom Martinez, Desert Palm United Church of Christ, Tempe, and Arizona Interfaith Power and Light
Today’s news conference can be viewed here.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.