PHOENIX — The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) hosted several of the state’s utility companies, including Arizona Public Service (APS) and Salt River Project (SRP), and Tucson Electric Power, for an energy reliability summit to see if Arizona won’t share a similar fate to the power struggled that plagued Texas during its recent storm and California during wildfire season.
All of the power companies presented a list of their diverse resources for energy use and their "reserve margins," the difference between what energy is available and the highest demand for energy use, which occurs over the summer months in Arizona.
listed their diverse resources for energy use and their “reserve margins” which is the difference between what energy is available and the highest of demand for energy use, which happens in the summer here.
A concern is the warming climate in Arizona.
Brian Cole, general manager, resource management at APS, said one degree of warming equals 150 megawatts more of demand on the system. With last year’s record-setting summer, that hit an all-time high of 7,700 megawatts at its peak.
“Another extreme heatwave would cause loads to be much higher than what we’re planning for. We’re going to continue to need to evaluate how we forecast weather due to climate change impacts as we continue forward,” Cole said.
The same applies for SRP, which reported 7,615 megawatts at its peak.
Another reason the summit was called was because the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), which promotes system reliability in the states that make up the western power grid, said in a recent report that "traditional methods of resource planning will not be adequate in the future due to the increasing variability on the system.”
The WECC provided a number of recommendations for power companies, which included diversifying the kind of power they rely on to meet the demand and to monitor the availability of resources because they may not be there in the future.
APS said it would continue to make sure the power is on and is looking 15-20 years in the future. The utility company said it is also investing more in his systems and will work with other utilities, such as SRP, to further explore resource adequacy.
“No matter what we do, we just have to be very thoughtful,” said Cole, of APS.
Commissioner Sandra Kennedy questioned the reason for the meeting believing that it was about educating legislators and not to hear a summary of the utilities' portfolios. She complained that Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson was “not truthful” with the intent of the meeting.