Myers Blunt In Testimony To Congress About The Challenges Of Providing Affordable “Renewable” Electricity

nick myers
Arizona Corporation Commissioner Nick Myers

This month, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Nick Myers was blunt in his appearance before the Congressional Subcommittee on Energy, Climate and Grid Security in Washington, D.C. when he addressed the challenges of providing affordable electricity in the wake of coal plant closings.

As one of four panelists participating in “Powered Up: State Utility Regulators on Challenges to Reliable, Affordable Electricity,” Commissioner Myers discussed the challenges Arizona is facing, especially highlighting increased costs because of mandates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which have and will force early retirement of coal-fired generation plants in Arizona.

“Many of the challenges we face moving forward regarding reliable generation center around early, forced retirements of coal plants without adequate replacement,” said Myers in his opening remarks, “Personally, it pains me to have to approve accelerated cost recovery for early shutdown of coal plants, while at the same time authorizing recovery on new purchased power agreements, and then, because the utilities are ultimately responsible for keeping the lights on, we also have to approve the building of reliable, dispatchable generation in the form of natural gas. If you are keeping count, that means our ratepayers are paying three times for the same amount of energy generation that could be had by simply keeping our existing generation online until natural retirement, or even better, beyond that.”

In addition to the early retirement of coal plants, Myers’ filed testimony also brought attention to the challenges to reliability and affordability posed by the unprecedented growth in load and peak demand which are expected to continue in the coming years, the growing difficulty of meeting summer peak demand while the western region transitions to renewable energy, and the prospect of federal or regional entities interfering with Arizona’s energy future.

“Arizona utilities and state regulators are best positioned to address these context-specific needs and challenges,” concluded Commissioner Myers in his submitted testimony, “Arizona’s utilities have successfully met the energy challenges in our state. Will outside entities have the same commitment to Arizona?”

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