The Salt River Project board of directors approved a plan Monday to increase the utility’s use of renewable energy to supply its electricity customers.
The new plan sets a target of 15 percent of SRP’s retail sales of electricity being met through sustainable resources, including large-scale hydro, by 2025. Currently the project receives about 5 percent of its electric supplies from renewables, including large hydro.
The plan was criticized by environmental and public health groups as not being sufficiently ambitious in developing alternative technologies such as solar, wind and geothermal. Under the plan, SRP would continue to obtain 5 percent of its electricity from renewables each year through 2015, then increase by 1 percent a year to reach 15 percent in 2025. The net result is SRP would not have to add to its current renewable supply for the next 10 years.
“We don’t see a lot of advantages to what they did (Monday),” said Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, a public interest advocacy organization. “Arizona is continuing to increase in population and pollution advisories, and we should look to the future with an increase in the use of solar and clean energy. They are looking at the status quo.”
Richard Hayslip, SRP’s assistant general manager, said the utility is negotiating with renewable energy developers that could increase the amount of renewable energy SRP receives beyond the percentages in the plan.
“Set aside the target, and look at what we do,” he said, adding that the plan could be updated if SRP exceeds its goals. “2025 is a long way out, and as new technologies develop, we could increase that target.”
Adam Browning, director of operations for the San Francisco-based Vote Solar Initiative, which had urged SRP to set a higher renewable goal, said his group will continue to prod the utility to expand its sustainable portfolio.
“It’s not over,” he said.
“I think there is a growing awareness among Americans that global warming is real and the impacts are potentially catastrophic, and there is an urgent need to develop our energy independence.”
While saying the percentage goals are too low, Jeff Schlegel, Arizona representative of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, praised the progress that SRP has made in its demandreduction programs, particularly the PowerWise Homes program that encourages home builders to design more energyefficient housing.