One thing is certain: No one is sure exactly how the Clean Power Plan (CPP) will affect utilities as they plan for the future.
It’s been that way since August of last year, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new rules designed to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. Thousands of pages long, the CPP outlined specific emissions reduction goals for most states, including Arizona’s goal of 34 percent by 2030.
Regardless of what happens with the rules, TEP customers can expect more solar power, improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions.
TEP and other Arizona stakeholders spent several months working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to identify strategies that could be used to satisfy state requirements. Then in February, enforcement of the CPP was suspended when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in response to a legal challenge.
Compliance efforts have ceased in some states. The ADEQ lists its next Arizona stakeholder meeting as “tentative,” but states in meeting notes that “the state may still need to file a compliance plan in the future if the stay is lifted.”
You can imagine how this uncertainty might complicate an electric utility’s planning process. Companies that were preparing to revise their long-term resource plans to comply with the CPP are now left wondering whether such changes will be necessary.
Fortunately, a preliminary analysis suggests that TEP’s existing plans are largely consistent with the targets set forth in the final CPP. So regardless of what happens with the rules, TEP customers can expect more solar power, improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions due to coal.
TEP will continue investing in large, cost-effective solar arrays and other community-scale renewable resources. We anticipate adding 1,100 megawatts (MW) of new renewable capacity by the end of 2030, boosting our total renewable energy portfolio to approximately 1,500 MW.
We’ll also keep looking for opportunities to reduce our use of coal. We’ve ceased burning coal at the Sundt generating station in Tucson and will lose 170 MW of coal-fired capacity when Unit 2 at the San Juan Generating Station in New Mexico is shut down at the end of next year. TEP will continue to own a 170 MW share of Unit 1 at San Juan but has an option to exit that unit in 2022.
Our expanding energy efficiency programs also would help TEP comply with the CPP. But even if those rules are overturned, we’ll continue to help our customers think green and save green through cost-effective energy saving options.