Tuscon Electric Power plan includes solar power, energy efficiency

Tucson Electric Power will meet customers’ energy needs in the near future by expanding renewable energy resources and energy efficiency programs, evaluating new technologies to improve reliability, and pursuing opportunities to reduce its use of coal.

TEP‘s strategies for southern Arizona’s energy future are outlined in its preliminary 2016 Integrated Resource Plan, which was filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The IRP describes how TEP plans to meet customers’ energy needs through 2030 while satisfying regulatory requirements and improving the environment.

Under direction from the ACC, TEP and other regulated Arizona power providers filed preliminary IRP plans this year because of uncertainties raised by the Clean Power Plan, a mandate to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants that was finalized in August 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency.

TEP and other stakeholders spent the last several months working with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to identify strategies that could be used to satisfy state CPP requirements. Enforcement of CPP requirements was suspended last month when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in response to a legal challenge.

TEP will continue investing in large solar arrays and other community scale renewable resources that add cost-effective capacity to its renewable energy portfolio. TEP anticipates an additional 1,100 MW of new renewable capacity by the end of 2030, boosting its total renewable energy portfolio to about 1,500 MW.

TEP also is examining how energy storage and smart grid technologies can improve reliability. Construction is expected to begin this year on two 10 MW storage projects that will be used to study how energy storage can help maintain the required balance between energy demand and supply, as well as other energy management requirements.

The IRP also explores how distributed energy resources like rooftop solar panels have created new challenges and opportunities for utilities and their customers. TEP expects to use more sensing and measurement devices to respond to the increase of intermittent renewable resources on its distribution system, effectively enabling some portions of the local electric grid to function as stand-alone microgrid systems.

Energy efficiency measures continue to be cost-effective resource options. TEP will continue working to meet the aggressive goals outlined in Arizona’s Energy Efficiency Standard, which calls on utilities to achieve cumulative energy savings of 22 percent by 2020. In 2016, TEP will offer several new energy efficiency programs that include discounts on energy-saving appliances, thermostats, and new heating, ventilation and cooling measures.

Reductions in coal-fired resources will not diminish the importance of the coal-fired Springerville Generating Station in eastern Arizona, which anchors the resources TEP relies on to serve customers’ everyday energy needs.

The company has ceased burning coal at its 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 2017. 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.

TEP provides safe, reliable electric service to about 417,000 customers in Southern Arizona.

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