Arizona Corporation Commission staff, in a Jan. 2 memorandum to the commission, said that it recommends approval of Gila Bend Power Partners’ (GBPP) requested certificate of environmental compatibility’s (CEC) time extension from Feb. 7, 2018, to Feb. 7, 2025, in relation to a 500-kV project.
As staff noted, the commission in April 2003 issued a decision approving a CEC that authorized GBPP to build a 500-kV transmission line from the Hassayampa switchyard to the Jojoba switchyard and associated switchyard components, to complete the interconnection of GBPP’s Gila Bend Power Plant to the Palo Verde Hub.
In April 2001, the commission approved a CEC for the construction of a natural gas-fired, combined cycle generating plant, switchyard, and related facilities in the Town of Gila Bend in Maricopa County. Staff added that in June 2001, the commission approved a CEC for GBPP to build the 500-kV Watermelon switchyard, a 500-kV transmission line from the Gila Bend Power Plant to the Watermelon switchyard, as well as a 500-kV interconnection at the Watermelon switchyard – collectively, the generation, switchyard, and transmission facilities are referred to as the project.
The conditions placed on the respective CECs permitting the construction of the various facilities contained provisions regarding the duration of the authorizations. Staff added that the commission, in separate decisions, later extended the GBPP authorization to build the 500-kV transmission facilities, and it is currently set to expire on Feb. 7.
The company in October 2017 filed a request for extension of the CEC term, requesting it be extended until Feb. 7, 2025, staff said, noting that similar requests were filed for the two related project CECs.
In the application, GBPP provided these justifications for the requested extension:
- The need for new generation, which has been substantially delayed by the recession, is just starting to recover. GBPP states that the delay in construction of the project is primarily due to unfavorable economic conditions and the lowered energy demand during the recession
- GBPP remains committed to the project. The company claims to have invested more than $19m in the project, including about $12.4m in the Hassayampa switchyard. GBPP said that since those initial investments, it has continued to invest in the project by maintaining required permits and approvals, complying with other annual filing requirements, and paying rents on rights of way over public lands
- The commission should encourage – not discourage – responsible investments in Arizona’s electrical infrastructure
- The project will provide benefits to the regional transmission system and to renewable generators in the state
Staff added that the company claims that there is continued need for the project as it can “complement the proposed solar plants and will provide a back-up source of power from the Gila Bend area during hours of darkness.” GBPP also claims that the interconnection components of the project will increase the adequacy and reliability of the regional transmission system by providing additional capacity to transmit power from the Gila Bend area to the Palo Verde Hub, staff said.
“Staff believes that the company has invested a substantial amount of money and has demonstrated continued commitment to the project, and that the project has the potential to improve system reliability in some regions,” staff said.
Staff also said in its memorandum that comments to the recommendation of the related proposed order are due by Jan. 5, and that the matter may be scheduled for commission deliberation at its open meetings scheduled for Jan. 9, and Jan. 10.