APS Claims Renewable Energy Measure Would Kill Palo Verde, Study Disagrees

By Editors of Power Engineering

The latest war of words over Arizona’s renewable energy ballot measure focuses on the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

Arizona Public Service Co. said the company could be forced to close the 3,037 MW three-unit plant if voters approve the measure, which would require utilities to get half their electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the Arizona Republic reported.

APS has previously stated its opposition to the ballot measure, which goes for a vote in November. The company believes the measure would create an oversupply of power that would force the shutdown of coal and nuclear plants that act as a baseload.

“The way we see this, it will force the closure of all our baseload facilities,” said Jeff Burke, resource planning director for APS. “This really closes the door on a lot of different resources.”

However, a study conducted by energy firm ICF, using information from the Natural Resources Defense Council, indicated Palo Verde would remain open even if the renewable mandate passes.

The study, which modeled baseline, renewable expansion and gas expansion scenarios, indicated Palo Verde operates at such a large scale it could remain competitive with low-cost renewable and gas power.

ICF also noted that the Energy Information Administration predicted Palo Verde would stay open through 2050 even in the worst-case scenario for nuclear that would shut down 80 percent of all nuclear plants by that time. That result was based on the greater vulnerability of smaller, single-unit nuclear reactors in deregulated markets.