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Regulator uneasy over Arizona utility's interest in N.M. wind  

Saying economic development opportunities could be lost, an Arizona official is casting a critical eye on a major utility’s interest in New Mexico wind power to help obtain more electricity from renewable sources.

Arizona Public Service Co. has identified multiple potential wind energy sites in Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave and Navajo counties in Arizona but appears to be moving toward more reliance on New Mexico projects, said Arizona Corporation Commission member Kris Mayes.

“When ratepayer funds are expended out of state, the potential for the RES to act as a catalyst for job creation in our state is thwarted,” Mayes wrote in a letter to APS last week, referring the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, which requires utilities to increase their reliance on renewable energy.

Mayes asked APS for an explanation of its decisions on renewable energy sources. Arizona Public Service is a unit of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

Company spokesman Jim McDonald said Monday that APS was still preparing its response to Mayes but that the potential for wind energy in Arizona pales in comparison to New Mexico, particularly in the high summertime need for power.

On the other hand, Arizona wins hands-down on solar opportunities, which produce more jobs than wind plants, McDonald said.

“Our first priority is to get the best deal for our customers. We put out a request for proposals and we’ll pick the best one in terms of price, reliability, capacity – the whole range of factors,” McDonald said.

Phoenix-based APS’ renewable energy projects include newly announced plans with Abengoa Solar Inc. to build a major new solar plant, the 280-megawatt Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend. Its wind initiatives already include the 90-megawatt Aragonne Mesa Wind Projection southwest of Santa Rosa, N.M.

APS on March 6 requested proposals for additional sources of renewable energy that could come from solar, wind, hybrid wind and power, biomass, landfill gas, hydropower and fuel cells.

Under the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, APS and other Arizona electric utilities regulated by the commission must gradually increase their reliance on solar and other renewable sources to at least 15 percent by 2025.

“We’ll surpass that far sooner,” McDonald said, citing a company projection to get more than 20 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2015.

By Paul Davenport, Associated Press Writer


24 March 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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