The Salt River Project (SRP) in Phoenix announced plans this week to add in 200 megawatts of solar power each year between now and its fiscal year 2025, adding an accumulative 1,000 MWs of solar over the time period. That’s five times as much solar as it has online now and made the change because of customer demand and the decrease in solar costs.
“This proposal represents a growing commitment to sustainability that is both reliable and affordable,” said SRP CEO and General Manager Mike Hummel. “It focuses on investments in utility-scale solar projects that have higher solar capture efficiencies and therefore provide optimal value for our customers.”
The non-profit public utility said the new plan increases its solar goal for the period by 700 megawatts. While the decision was driven by economics a recent study also showed that SRP’s grid is prepared for the higher level of solar.
Arizona could be moving closer to 100 percent clean energy. Earlier this year, for instance, a utility commissioner proposed transitioning the state to 80 percent clean electricity by 2050 and transitioning to 100 percent clean electricity.
“Over the past several months, we have had discussions with residential customers and many of our larger commercial, industrial and municipal customers regarding their needs for sustainable resources. Several customers have asked us to work with them on providing resource options that help them achieve their goals,” Hummel said. “This proposal is a foundational part of providing programs that bring increased value to our customers while partnering with them to achieve mutually desired renewable energy goals.”
Still, the utility has had an acrimonious relationship with solar power and its customers, particularly towards small and commercial-sized customers that want to go solar. The utility had imposed fees on new solar customers in 2015 adding about $50 a month to their bills and significantly reducing the amount they would save on their energy bills by going solar in the first place.
The utility hasn’t said if it plans to change its rooftop solar policies. Rather that it’s focussed on value. However, it did say it would examine programs to allocate the new solar capacity to various customer groups, including community solar for residential customers.
“We are continually working toward a more sustainable future as well as reducing our carbon footprint for the benefit of SRP’s customers and the communities we serve,” said SRP President David Rousseau. “This plan affirms our commitment in a manner that brings the most value to our customers while providing the greatest environmental impact.”
Still, Phoenix is one of the nation’s top solar cities and was named one of Environment America’s Shining Cities in 2016 and it’s remained one of the top solar cities in the nation.Tweet