Utility Regulators Rejected Expansion Of Generating Station

PHOENIX (AP) — State utility regulators have rejected a proposed power plant expansion project that pitted environmental justice concerns against metro Phoenix's increasing electricity demands during Arizona's summer heat.

The Arizona Corporation Commission's 4-1 vote Tuesday was a victory for residents of Randolph, a small historically Black community near Coolidge in Pinal County.

Citing concerns about emissions and air quality, residents opposed the Salt River Project's nearly $1 billion project to add 16 more quick-start units to its nearby natural gas-fueled generating station.

Resident Jeff Jordan said he was pleased but shocked by the vote.

“This certainly would have impacted our community tremendously. So, the commission today did the right thing. They really did," Jordan said.

The Sierra Club also opposed the project, which SRP officials said was urgently needed to reliably augment other sources of power.

Commissioner Anna Tovar voted against the expansion, saying it would increase emissions that “with the preexisting environmental and air quality issues will result in an unacceptable total environment for the Randolph community.”

Commission Justin Olson cast the only vote for the project.

“If we are going to eliminate any natural gas energy generation, we’re not going to have the ability to meet the energy demands of Arizona residents,” Olson said.