Salt River Project officials said Friday they want to build new power plants at two sites in Pinal County instead of three proposed earlier this year.
SRP spokesman Scott Harelson said the utility could meet the future energy demands of its Pinal County customers with just two plants. Also the utility plans to purchase power from another Pinal County power plant that will be built by an independent third-party operator.
In June the project said it was considering three sites for SRP-owned power plants. On Friday the utility said it will proceed with planning for two of the sites but could resume consideration of the third if conditions warrant.
The two locations that will be pursued are the “Abel” site northwest of Florence and the “Pinal Central” site southwest of Coolidge. SRP has options to purchase both properties, which are next to future transmission lines and substations.
The site being dropped from immediate consideration is located near the Eloy Detention Center on land owned by the city of Mesa.
All of the proposed Pinal County plants will run on natural gas, a relatively clean-burning fuel.
The plants will be needed primarily to meet electricity demand during peak-use periods such as summer days when air conditioning use is highest, Harelson said.
SRP officials figure the utility will need an additional 2,500 megawatts of generating capacity by 2022 to supply customers in its service territory, which includes areas of Pinal County north of Arizona Farms Road. That includes the 275-square-mile Superstition Vistas project proposed on state land south of Apache Junction, which is expected to have a million residents by mid-century.
About 500 megawatts will be met by an agreement SRP negotiated to purchase the output of the proposed Coolidge Generating Station, which is planned by TransCanada Corp. The SRP-owned plant at the Abel site will provide 850 megawatts, and the Pinal Central site will produce 1,150 megawatts.
All of the plants are subject to regulatory approval by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
SRP wants to complete the Abel plant first because it is located within the SRP service territory and provides the lowest transmission costs, Harelson said. The plan calls for it to be built in stages beginning in 2009, with operations beginning in 2012 and full capacity available in 2016.
The Pinal Central plant could begin operating in 2014 and be at full capacity in 2022.
SRP will hold a public open house on the projects from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 16 at Copper Basin Elementary School, 28682 N. Main St., Queen Creek.
Also information is available on the Internet at www.pinalenergyprojects.org.