Correction: Electricity sector enters Arizona immigration law furor

Correction to article posted May 18, 2010. The original article said the commissioner’s letter was co-signed by several Arizona public officials and other individuals. This was incorrect. A copy of the letter was sent to these individuals. They did not sign it. Electric Light & Power and  POWERGRID International magazines regret the error.

May 20, 2010 — In response to threats from the City of Los Angeles of an economic boycott of the state of Arizona, an Arizona utilities commissioner has threatened to cut off the 25 percent of the city’s power that comes from Arizona.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce expressed his dismay about the boycott in a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

The boycott, which was approved by the city council May 12, banned official city travel to Arizona and prohibited new city contracts with Arizona-based firms. The boycott was in response to the stringent new Arizona immigration law (SB 1070), which critics have said could lead to ethnic and racial profiling.

Pierce said in his letter to Villaraigosa, who supported the city council’s boycott, that 25 percent of Los Angeles’ power is generated in Arizona power plants.

“If an economic boycott is truly what you desire, I will be happy to encourage Arizona utilities to renegotiate your power agreements so Los Angeles no longer receives any power from Arizona-based generation. I am confident that Arizona’s utilities would be happy to take those electrons off your hands. If, however, you find that the City Council lacks the strength of its convictions to turn off the lights in Los Angeles and boycott Arizona power, please reconsider the wisdom of attempting to harm Arizona’s economy,” Pierce wrote.

Los Angeles owns 21 percent of the 2,250 MW coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, which powers the Los Angeles area, as well as areas of Nevada and Arizona.

The 3,740 MW Palo Verde nuclear generating station, located 45 miles west of Phoenix, powers Los Angeles as well as other major cities in the area. Arizona Public Service owns about 30 percent of the power plant, and serves as its operator. The Los Angeles Department of Power and Water also owns more than 5 percent of the generation asset.


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