Amy Dominguez, Amy.Dominguez@sierraclub.org
PHOENIX, AZ – Today Sierra Club filed its comments with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) regarding the 2023 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) of Arizona Public Service Company (APS) and Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP), calling for transparent resource planning that lowers costs for ratepayers, while minimizing risk and harm to our air and water. Both plans currently continue the utilities’ costly and dangerous dependence on coal until 2031 and add hundreds of megawatts of new gas (or in APS’s case, thousands of megawatts) at the expense of ratepayers when more cost-effective alternatives like solar, wind, and battery storage are available.
IRP’s are meant to evaluate the utilities’ plans to obtain electric power for the next 15 years. Instead of planning for a future focused on a transition to clean energy, utilities like APS and TEP are continuing to rely on expensive fossil fuels that cost far more than renewable energy. APS’s own IRP shows that retiring the Company’s coal-fired Four Corners Plant in 2028 would save over $130 million for ratepayers compared to running the plant until 2031, yet APS continues to plan around a 2031 retirement date. Rather than proactively procure enough clean renewable resources to replace Four Corners before 2031, APS keeps ratepayers on the hook to pay for the higher costs that come from running the outdated coal plant. And APS’s proposal to build over 3,000 megawatts of gas by 2038 puts ratepayers at risk of increased costs given gas price volatility.
In its 2021 IRP, TEP indicated that it planned to build only clean energy resources moving forward. TEP’s 2023 IRP has gone back on this commitment by proposing to add 400 megawatts of new gas resources to replace its coal-fired Springerville plant when it retires. TEP also did not evaluate many early retirement scenarios for Springerville, and instead plans to run Springerville Unit 2 until 2032.
Both companies’ continued reliance on outdated coal plants and their plans to add new gas plants will harm ratepayer pocketbooks and the environment, affecting Arizonans at large.
In its comments, Sierra Club calls for APS and TEP to update their IRPs to evaluate early retirement scenarios at the Four Corners and Springerville coal plants. Both APS and TEP’s plans will be voted on by the Commission later this year, but before the Commission reviews the plans, the utilities must respond to stakeholder comments.
“Our utilities, including APS and TEP, must do better to transition quickly away from coal and gas and plan for a clean energy future,” said Sandy Bahr, Director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “As coal continues to decline and become more uneconomical and gas presents a risk to ratepayers due to its price volatility, harming our air, water, and climate, we need plans that focus on clean solar and energy efficiency.”
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.