Arizona Utilities Prepare As California Sees Power Outages
California is experiencing a statewide energy emergency the likes of which have not been seen since 2001. Rolling blackouts there follow a heat wave that has hit Arizona hard this summer, too, leading to concerns about Arizona utilities' ability to keep up with demand.
Scott Harelson, a spokesperson for Salt River Project, says part of California’s problem has been in its resource planning. The state has pushed to build up renewable energy and reduce emissions, a goal SRP supports. But Harelson says the grid has to be prepared for when renewable resources are not available.
“When the sun goes down and solar is not generating electricity or the wind isn’t blowing for the wind turbines, you need to have adequate fossil fuel resources available to back them up,” he says.
“We’re committed to reducing our emissions,” he added, “but we want to do it in a thoughtful way so that we don’t put our customers at risk, particularly during the summer.”
SRP increases its share of renewable energy each year, Harelson says. But when demand hits its peak on those blistering summer afternoons, a significant portion of electricity is generated with fossil fuels, namely natural gas.