Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2996
RE: Salt River Project (SRP) Coolidge Expansion Project Certificate of Environmental Compatibility (CEC), Docket No. L-00000B-21-0393-00197
Chairman O’Connor and Commissioners,
The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA) filed joint comments opposing the SRP CEC on March 11, 2022. That filing is attached, as is a filing from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) on March 14, 2022. None of the underlying reasons for our opposition have been resolved and we remain opposed to SRP’s Application to Amend Decision 78545, filed on June 14, 2023.
First, we are concerned with how quickly this application was filed and then docketed for an open meeting. We received notice of this filing at 4:30 pm on June 14th. We received notice of it being on the revised June open meeting agenda at 10:06 am on June 15th, which is only six (6) calendar days before the open meeting and three (3) business days before the open meeting. This is an inadequate amount of time for interested parties to respond and a vote should not be taken at the June 21st open meeting. Further, SRP has clearly known about this arrangement much longer than other interested stakeholders, which is reflected in the fact that their supporters had ample warning to file supportive comments in the docket. This is not the case and a significant disadvantage for those in opposition. Finally on this topic, it is worth noting that almost all of their letters in support are the same organizations that supported granting the CEC before any proposed settlement. Therefore, their support is not contingent on the settlement or anything that has happened since the CEC was filed in 2021.
Second, none of the underlying reasons why AriSEIA opposed the CEC in the first place have been addressed. SRP first proposed the Coolidge Expansion Project two years ago in the summer of 2021. One of our largest complaints was that SRP made the decision to invest nearly $1 billion dollars in almost 1 GW of new gas at the Coolidge Generating Station with no competitive bidding process in violation of their own Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). It has been two years and SRP has issued multiple all-source requests for proposals (ASRFPs) since and they have still not solicited or made public any bids to substantiate this project or its massive cost. There is simply no legitimate reason why SRP could not have done so in the last two years. It is highly unlikely that this Commission would allow Arizona Public Service (APS) or Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to do similarly with no competitive bidding process.
Third, the statutes that permit the CEC review clearly state that the Commission shall consider the cost of the facilities when determining to grant the CEC. SRP has never provided a rate impact analysis regarding this project. We simply do not know how much it will cost ratepayers. Further, SRP has not docketed any data that reflects the total cost of the project nearly two years later. If the project was $1 billion in 2021, how much does it cost now with 1) significantly increased interest rates, 2) millions of dollars in negotiated concessions, and 3) the dramatic increase in fuel prices we have seen in both TEP and APS fuel adjustor dockets, as well as the increase SRP’s board also voted to pass recently for their own fuel adjustor? It is not prudent to only include capital costs. Any resource acquisition should also include the operations and maintenance (O&M) costs for that plant/resource, as ratepayers pay the total cost.
It is simply imprudent to grant this CEC now. SRP should complete its currently pending IRP (called Integrated System Plan or ISP by SRP) process to determine what resources are needed and when and then should issue an ASRFP like every other utility in the state to determine the best project at the lowest cost. If the winning proposal is for a thermal resource, SRP should apply for a CEC, as required. There is no reason for the Commission to deviate from a process it would require of TEP and APS for SRP, certainly not for a CEC that has already been denied twice by this Commission and lost in court, as well.
Attached are two letters filed in opposition in March of 2022. As the Commission makeup has changed since, please review them. Please do not vote on the SRP’s CEC application to amend at the June open meeting and when you do vote, please vote no.
/s/ Autumn T. Johnson
Keep up with the latest solar energy news!