Strong support for utility project emerges at hearing

The Arizona Corporation Commission Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee at a hearing on Monday took public testimony on the Salt River Project Coolidge Expansion Project (CEP), a natural gas project in Pinal County that supporters say will help meet the region’s growing energy demands in an environmentally responsible way. 

The proposed expansion will enable the addition of more renewable resources while maintaining a reliable power grid. With the expansion project, SRP will be able to meet the objectives while also staying on the path to decarbonize their energy generation processes over the long term. 

SRP is anticipating a 16% increase in peak energy demand by 2025, which the CEP would be able to support. The expansion plans for 16 new natural gas turbines to be installed at the Coolidge Generating Station.

The power that is generated by the plant will go to neighboring cities and towns in Maricopa County, but the benefits will be widespread. The construction will generate jobs for residents and more than $76 million in property taxes from 2024 to 2033.

The Boilermakers 627 chapter had multiple members speak in favor of the project at the hearing, with union representatives conveying to the committee members the importance of the jobs being created by the project. 

James Horcala, one of the members of the union, spoke on the opportunity to remain close to home. 

“Me and my son are going to get hired in Casa Grande,” he said. “We are qualified to do the work. This is the first time that we are going to be at home and be able to be in our community.”

State Rep. David Cook, R-Globe, also spoke in support of the CEP’s benefits for the state. 

“These are the facts: Arizona is one of the fastest and largest growing [states] in our country,” Cook said. “The reality is that customers need electricity and they need it to be affordable electricity. SRP is investing in the infrastructure that is needed for the state. We should be thanking them for looking down the road for the future of the state.”

A representative from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry also spoke in favor of the CEP.

“The Chamber believes that Arizona’s ability to meet the energy demands of job creators is an essential part of the state’s overall economic development strategy,” said Courtney Coolidge, vice president of government affairs. “We are fortunate that leaders like SRP are meeting industry demands with solutions that not only ensure the affordable delivery of reliable power but are also doing so in an environmentally responsible way that helps wean us off carbon-intensive sources, as SRP maintains its commitment that nearly half of all the retail energy it delivers will come from zero-carbon sources within the next four years.”

The public can learn more about the project at SRP’s virtual open house.

Taylor Hersch

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