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Power Generation for Generations to Come
YES to Solar + Storage

NO to fossil fuels

If loving the earth makes you happy, now is the time to pursue happiness!

Going solar and getting rid of fossil fuels is an important way Tucsonans can show our love.  Pima County, the City of Tucson and the Arizona Corporation Commission are deciding on our behalf whether to grant TEP’s request to increase their air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions limits.  TEP wants to add 200 megawatts of inefficient natural gas-fired power production.  It would speed up climate change, pollute our air and use tons of precious water.  The gas “peaker” plant – meant to meet peak demand when needed – would cost electric ratepayers over $200 million to build.  And it’s not even necessary. 

NEWS FLASH: The Arizona Corporation Commission granted some of what Power Generation for Generations to Come (PGGC) has asked, but gave TEP an easy out.

PGGC asked for a delay in granting approval of TEP’s Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC). The AZCC placed a moratorium until the end of 2018 on any new gas plants in the state over 150 megawatts. The Commission, however, approved TEP’s CEC application, because the planned construction for this year (100 of 200 planned megawatts) falls under the 150 megawatt size limit.

-PGGC asked for a requirement that TEP demonstrate that there is no substantially more environmentally responsible and comparably cost- and performance-competitive set of measures than the internal combustion generation they propose. The AZCC stipulated that should utilities apply for a waiver, they must conduct an “independent analysis comparing the present and future costs between the specific natural gas procurement and alternative energy storage options.”

-PGGC asked the Commission to avoid California’s errors that have led to the need to shutter existing gas plants in favor of renewables and storage. The AZCC acted “in an effort to protect ratepayers from potential unnecessary capital improvements in the near future and stranded asset costs in the long-term.”

Battery storage pairs perfectly with solar. 
Peak solar energy production at midday is stored in the batteries and released in peak-usage afternoon and evening hours, or when a cloud passes over. The Corporation Commission is rightly considering a “Clean Peak” proposal that would soon require Arizona utilities to meet their peak demand using a certain percentage of non-polluting generation like solar + battery storage.  Let’s just do it right the first time!

Battery storage is affordable. 
Tesla installed a 100 megawatt battery storage plant in a matter of 100 days a few months ago in southern Australia. The plant cost $50 million.  With federal incentives and depreciation deductions, TEP could build 740 megawatts of battery storage (holding over 950 megawatt hours of stored energy) for less than $200 million. 

Take action now.

Fuel costs – free sunshine for decades, or water and methane for a year?
As TEP customers, how would you prefer for TEP to spend $10-15 million of your collective annual utility bills? On fracked natural gas fuel, precious desert water to cool hot internal combustion engines, oil, filters, parts and maintenance for fossil fuel generation to operate for one year, OR on adding 10-15 megawatts of solar energy harvesting each year? Each of those annual investments in solar would bring electrical service with no fuel cost for about three low-maintenance decades.

Batteries are replacing our neighbors’ gas peaker plants
California’s energy regulators have had enough of gas.  After their Aliso Canyon underground storage leaked 100,000 tons of natural gas – a powerful greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere, regulators canceled planned gas-fired generation and now are requiring utilities to open competitive solicitations for solar + battery storage that are likely to replace three currently operating gas peaker plants. 

Take action now.

Arizona is solar
Natural gas is not here.  Even if copper were methane, why would we frack our beloved land and water in order to turn it into heat and greenhouse gases when we have all this sun and the ability to skip the burning and go right to clean power?!  And why should we allow investors in TEP or its Canada-based parent company to be complicit in subjecting our neighbors’ beloved lands and waters to fracking when it’s just not what we want or need?  After all, we love them, too!

Batteries and solar are Tucson’s present and future
That solar + storage is at the heart of Tucson’s energy future, TEP planners admit.  It’s not that they aren’t paying attention.  Their claim in defense of the Sundt gas peaker plant is that battery storage technologically isn’t up to the task yet.  But their permit application to Pima County offers no substantiation of this claim. A completely uninformative graph illustrating solar peaks and valleys over a one year period, without even a single digit of numerical or scientifically researched support (“ESS” in TEP’s application stands for Energy Storage System), is not enough.

Who’s to blame?
Notwithstanding the inadequacy of TEP’s application, this is not a blame game.  When the plan was developed, battery storage had been insufficiently implemented.  Now it has to the point that systems of ever greater size are being proposed and built.  We must support efforts within utilities, in regulatory bodies and among the public to respond to a rapidly changing – and renewing – utility landscape.  TEP’s customer base owes it to the Arizona Corporation Commission, to the Pima County Board of Supervisors and to the Tucson City Council to make sure they are aware both of the level of readiness of solar + battery storage to meet peaking functions AND that we will support them 100% in regulating responsibly under these rapidly changing conditions. Those bodies, in turn, owe it to us all to require of TEP more substantiation to their argument that increasing the allowed limits of Tucson’s Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and particulate pollution (PM2.5, PM10), and shortening the time frame that our region and the planet will have to make the great turn away from climate chaos, is still a sound option.

Take action now.