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Letter-to-the-editor messaging for TEPís RICE Proposal

These points were prepared by the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club.

 

Summary:

 

  Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is failing to invest in Arizonaís abundance of low cost renewable energy potential. Instead, TEP is now planning to install ten 20 megawatt gas-fired power plants, also known as reciprocating internal combustion engines (RICE), at the H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on East Irvington Road. Itís time to stop investing in the unstable fossil fuel industry thatís polluting our air and water, damaging our climate, and holding back the growing clean energy economy that will create opportunities that will last for generations.

 

Details of the RICE Project:

 

  The Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) Generation Project involves new gas-fired generation to replace the aging gas-fired steam generation units at the H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on East Irvington Road.

  The RICE Generation Project would be composed of 10 gas-powered units capable of producing about 20 Megawatts (MW) each, for a build-out total of 200 MW.

  The RICE Generation Project is currently estimated to cost about $180 million.

  The planned construction start date is April 2, 2018. The first five units would begin operation in the summer of 2019 and the remaining five would be online in early 2020.

 

Opportunity for public input:

 

  The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is holding a second public meeting to get feedback from the community on March 28, 2018 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

  The meeting will be held at the Pima County Public Works Building, 201 N Stone, basement Conference Room C, Tucson 85701

 

LTE Submission page and details:

 

  Arizona Daily Star: https://speedway.tucson.com/letters/?action=letter

 

LTE topics and supporting facts:

 

1.    Arizonaís economy will benefit more from in-state renewable energy projects:

o    Arizona does not produce gas in-state and has to import all of it from other states.

o    TEPís service territory sits in one of the richest renewable resource zones in the country.

o    TEP should join utilities throughout the country that are taking advantage of tax credits and falling renewable energy prices.

o    Renewable energy creates far more jobs than fossil fuels. According to the Department of Energy, Arizonaís clean energy and energy efficiency industries already employ nearly 5 times as many people as the fossil fuel industry, and there is much room to grow.

 

2.       Right now we have an opportunity to end decades of environmental injustice

o Neighborhoods in southeast Tucson have suffered from decades of coal and gas pollution from the Sundt plant.

o There are significant environmental justice issues with this plant as the impact area has an 85% minority population and a 63% of the residents are low-income.

o Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is now planning to replace aging gas-fired power plants with ten new 20 megawatt gas plants instead of investing in Arizonaís abundance of low cost renewable energy potential.

o This plant will be a major emitter of hazardous air pollutants that are harmful to our health, including benzene, fluorene, naphthalene, and toluene.

o Itís time to stop spending our money on the fossil fuel industry thatís polluting our air and water and to instead invest in near zero emissions options are available and increasingly affordable.

o The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can ensure the health and safety of our community by rejecting these gas-fired plants.

 

3.            Emissions from gas extraction, transmission, and generation pose a public and environmental health threat:

o This plant will be a major emitter of hazardous air pollutants that are harmful to our health, including benzene, fluorene, naphthalene, and toluene.

o This proposal will cause a net increase in pollution from particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride.

o Gas extraction harms wildlife, disrupts ecosystems, and has been proven to contaminate water and even cause earthquakes throughout the U.S.

o Gas is not clean, and burning the fossil fuel still emits about 60 percent as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide as coal.

o Fracking for gas releases vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide pollution.

o TEPís target to serve only 30% of its load with renewable energy by 2030 is not nearly ambitious enough to protect Arizonaís air and water and to limit the impacts of climate change.

 

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-- 

Sandy Bahr

Chapter Director

Sierra Club - Grand Canyon Chapter

514 W Roosevelt St.

Phoenix, AZ  85003

Phone (602) 253-8633

Mobile (602) 999-5790

sandy.bahr@sierraclub.org

http://www.sierraclub.org/arizona