Sandra Kennedy, commissioner of the Arizona Corporation Commission, on Feb. 24 said that she will host a workshop on March 15 to address utilities’ long-term resource needs and planning.
“In less than a year we’ve seen California residents suffer through rolling blackouts in one of the hottest summers on record,” Kennedy said in her statement. “Last week, Texas residents endured devastating winter storms that left thousands without power in below freezing temperatures. As extreme weather events occur more frequently due to climate change, I question whether Arizona is adequately prepared for these challenges.”
Kennedy said that a recent assessment from the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) raises red flags for the resilience and reliability of the grid in the western United States as a whole, and for Arizona specifically.
As noted in, for instance, “The Western Assessment of Resource Adequacy Report” by WECC, dated December 2020, the expected availability of resources on the peak hour in 2021 in the Desert Southwest (DSW) subregion, which includes Arizona, is 29,300 MW. Under low availability conditions, the DSW subregion may have only 24,300 MW available to meet a 25,700 MW expected peak. The report added that while there is only a 5% probability of that occurring, a large amount of external assistance would be needed to meet demand under low availability conditions.
Baseload resources account for about 25,000 MW of the subregion’s resource availability, and under low availability conditions — 5% probability — baseload resources could supply as little as 21,900 MW. The report also said that solar generation availability could range from an expected availability of 1,400 MW to a low of 800 MW — again, a 5% probability.
Kennedy said in her statement that when she asks whether or not Arizona will be prepared for the next several summers, she wants Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power, UNS Electric, Inc., and Southwest Gas Corporation to provide frequent and detailed preparedness updates so that the commission can be sure that it has that answer, regardless of the season.
Noting the March workshop, Kennedy said that some questions that she hopes will be answered include:
- How will the utilities increase needed resiliency and capacity to the grid over the next five, 15, 20, and 30 years?
- Are utilities looking to the future and the past for their data?
- Are utilities coordinating their long-term planning, or are they operating as though Arizona is an island?
Kennedy said that those questions are critical to the future of Arizona’s electricity operations, as well as to the health and economic well-being of the state.
As noted in the statement, for more information on the workshop, individuals may email SDKennedyfirstname.lastname@example.org.