With support from business community, Arizona Corporation Commission approves SRP expansion of Coolidge Generating Station

In a 4-1 vote, the Arizona Corporation Commission last week approved a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC) to expand its Coolidge Generating Station in Pinal County.

The vote, which concluded a lengthy process to receive support from the nearby community of Randolph, came after a settlement was reached between residents and SRP.

SRP responded to community concerns about the expansion and agreed to a modified CEC, which would reduce the number of new generation units to 12 from the originally proposed 16, as well as locating them further away from Randolph.

The settlement also increased SRP’s investment in the community from $11.47 million to $23.7 million, which will include scholarships, job training, recreational programs, home renovations, and more.

“We need fixed, consistent power like natural gas to assist us with our clean energy transition,” Commissioner Lea Marquez Peterson said in explaining her vote in support of the expansion. “If we don’t provide for this, we run the risk of rolling brownouts like our neighbors to the west. SRP has made important modifications and has gained the support of the Randolph community, so I am proud to support and stand with the Randolph community.”

The approval of the SRP project comes after active and vocal support from the business community, which noted that the expansion was necessary to support increasing development in the area and SRP’s long-term plans to decarbonize its energy generation process.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which had been a longtime advocate of the expansion, had written to the Commission prior to the vote to explain its support.

“As you all know, states across the West have recently grappled with inconsistent power delivery to customers, resulting in brownouts and outages, sometimes for a sustained period and with devastating consequences,” wrote Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden. “The infrastructure modernization brought forth by the revised Coolidge Expansion Project will help ensure Arizona does not suffer a similar fate.”

Support for the SRP project also came from state and local officials, including state Sen. T.J. Shope from Legislative District 16, which includes Coolidge and Randolph.

“The Coolidge Expansion Project is the most cost-effective option to meet Arizonans’ growing energy needs without compromising reliability as more solar, wind, and storage resources are added,” Shope said in a letter to the Commission before the vote. “Like other generation facilities, they will comply with all local, state, and federal air quality regulations that protect human health and the environment.”

Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Ben Toma also expressed his support for the expansion before the Commission’s vote.

“As a father, real estate broker, and business owner, I know that our children’s future depends on the expansion of power supply in the state,” Toma said. “Whether you support schools and education, hospitals and healthcare, or venture capital and tech startups, our state needs new, cost-effective sources of reliable and dependable power that can be counted on 24 hours a day to move forward.”

The power generated from the approved expansion will create new jobs for residents, as well as support more than $76 million in property tax revenue from 2024 to 2033.

The Coolidge Expansion Project is part of SRP’s plan to provide energy for the growing Phoenix metro area, which recently surpassed a population of 5 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

The project is also part of SRP’s plans to support clean energy sources, which are expected to provide 75% of energy for customers by 2035, without suffering from brownouts during the transition.

“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,” Seiden wrote. “The Chamber supports an Arizona energy portfolio that includes solar and wind power generation, and we are excited by the potential of large-scale battery storage, but the state requires energy sources that can be counted on when the sun’s not shining and the wind’s not blowing. Natural gas and the Coolidge Expansion Project are crucial in achieving that goal.”

Craig Ruiz

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