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Published on May 15th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Coal Would Be A Poor Investment For Arizona

May 15th, 2013 by  

One of CleanTechnica’s dedicated readers and tweeters, Nancy LaPlaca, is running for a position on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Without a doubt, we endorse her 100%. I always respect and value Nancy’s statements and wealth of experience. Here’s a recent article by Nancy that we’re reposting from azcentral.com to help get the word out about some of the important matters on which she’s campaigning. With recent research suggesting a link between coal and suicide (among many other documented horrors), this post is as relevant as ever. Check it out:

nancy laplancaBy Nancy LaPlaca

When two of Arizona’s neighbors, California and Nevada, decide to abandon coal-generated electricity in favor of renewable and natural gas, the writing is on the wall: The days of the Navajo Generating Station and other coal-fired power plants are numbered.

The news that Nevada’s largest utility, NV Energy, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are divesting themselves of the NGS coal plant hit Arizona’s utilities hard. Why? Because it means that Salt River Project or some other utility will have to purchase LADWP’s 21 percent share and NV’s 11.3 percent share in the plant to keep it open. That’s nearly one-third of NGS’ ownership, up for grabs.

If SRP buys LADWP and NV Energy’s share in NGS, it would own 53 percent of a 40-year-old coal-burner and have to pay for another 30 years of fuel and maintenance costs, plus upgrades.

So why are utilities in California, Nevada, Iowa and Colorado bailing on coal while SRP is adding more? This is a fair question and the Arizonans who will get stuck with the bill deserve an honest answer.

NGS has been emitting enormous amounts of pollution for nearly 40 years. Pollution upgrades alone will cost $600 million to $1 billion in addition to the approximately $580 million it will cost to buy out the departing co-owners.

Is spending up to $1.6 billion to support the energy status quo a smart investment?

That’s like putting $40,000 into a $2,000 vehicle that gets 8 miles per gallon, leaks oil and pumps choking exhaust when there are better options. It makes no sense.

Wouldn’t Arizona be better off investing in new, clean technology like solar rather pouring oil into a smoky old clunker?

SRP spends at least $500 million per year buying coal and natural gas for power plants, mostly from out of state. Rate increases for coal upgrades are far higher than rate increases for clean energy. The direct and indirect fuel and health costs of coal will increase for decades, while the price of solar and wind “fuel” is forever free.

Moving to clean energy is an enormous economic opportunity, utilizes our unique competitive advantage, creates well-paying jobs and puts Arizona ahead of a booming $100-billion-year worldwide market. The solar market in the U.S. last year was worth more than $11 billion.

It seems that everyone in the country realizes that renewables are our future — except Arizona.

Other states and utilities are making smarter choices. Why can’t we?

Nancy LaPlaca served as policy adviser to former Arizona Corporation Commissioner Paul Newman and three years as a public-interest intervener. 

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort on Tesla or any other company.

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