SRP is on the path to becoming a sustainability leader

"Earlier this month, the SRP board voted to reduce water consumption and waste while increasing commitments to energy efficiency and electric vehicles."

Salt River Project is on the path to becoming a sustainability leader in our state and a positive example for electric utilities across the nation.

Earlier this month, the SRP board voted to reduce water consumption and waste while increasing commitments to energy efficiency and electric vehicles, each of which can save money for SRP ratepayers.

While reducing water, waste and energy — and saving money — should be a no-brainer, elected officials don’t always see things the way you or I do.

The vote towards improved sustainability followed SRP management’s proposals and a robust stakeholder process held over the course of several months.

The stakeholders included representatives of big businesses including Apple and Intel, large municipalities including City of Mesa and City of Phoenix, Arizona State University and advocates including myself.

The process towards SRP’s 2035 Sustainability Goals and the adoption of the goals should be a model for utilities and all decision-making bodies.

The historical perspective, recent policies and data and thoughts provided by SRP Management and staff helped to provide an assessment of where the utility is today and what they see as achievable in the not too distant future.

The back-and-forth, give-and-take by participants and SRP management, enabled board members observing the process to feel secure knowing the goals were vetted and attainable.

And when the goals came before the board, their questions and the discussion resulted in further enhancements.

Here’s a snapshot of SRP’s 2035 Sustainability Goals:

Keep 95 percent of SRP’s operational waste — including office furniture, electronics, power poles, cable and equipment — out of our landfills.

Reduce water use at SRP’s facilities by at least 45 percent.

Expand funding for energy efficiency to $50 million by 2020 and $55 million by 2025 to help ratepayers cut energy waste and save money on monthly electric bills.

Support the necessary infrastructure for at least 500,000 electric vehicles in SRP’s service territory by 2035. With more EVs on our roads, adequate EV infrastructure and managed EV charging, SRP and its ratepayers can save money, eliminate air pollution and reduce the adverse public health impacts of gasoline vehicles.

 Communicate progress on sustainability initiatives to SRP customers and stakeholders in a proactive and transparent manner.

Members of the SRP Board and Management — particularly Mike Hummel, Kelly Barr and Marc Campbell — deserve credit for their leadership throughout the development of their sustainability objectives.

While the hard work now needs to take place, SRP makes a habit of accomplishing the goals it sets.

Due in large part to SRP’s interactive process and responsiveness to stakeholders, diverse entities have pledged to remain engaged and ensure the goals remain on track and when warranted, improve.

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund looks forward to continued participation.

-Diane E. Brown is executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund conducts research and education on issues in the public interest.

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