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GTM Squared: Arizona’s Shifting Approach to Distributed Energy: Reaching Across the Utility-Customer Divide

Posted by Jeff St. John on Oct 23, 2020

GTM Squared reported on how the changing role of distributed-level solar will help Arizona reach its climate targets, referencing AEE. Read excerpts below and the full piece here (sub. req.).

A state known for utility fights against rooftop solar is now taking steps to enlist customers in balancing a clean-powered grid. Arizona is one of the most solar-saturated states in the country, ranking fifth in overall solar capacity and third for residential rooftop solar. It’s also one of the hottest states in the country, with climate change pushing that heat to record levels this summer. This combination is pushing the Republican-dominated state’s energy policies in increasing alignment with its Democratic-controlled, solar-rich and climate-change-wracked neighbor to the west.

While Arizona lacks California’s aggressive renewable-energy and carbon-reduction mandates, that could change soon. The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is debating whether to expand current renewable mandates from 15 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030 and mandate carbon-free energy by midcentury, with a decision possible by month’s end. 

Meanwhile, Arizona utilities are making massive investments in utility-scale solar and batteries, backing out of coal-fired power, and setting their own carbon reduction goals. The state’s biggest investor-owned utility Arizona Public Service has set its own goal of zero carbon by 2050, starting with 65 percent clean power by 2030. Tucson Electric Power plans to reach 70 percent renewables by 2035, and sprawling municipal utility Salt River Project plans to cut emissions by 62 percent by 2035 and 90 percent by 2050.

And while Arizona’s utilities have earned a reputation for fighting the spread of customer-owned solar, they’re now starting to embrace distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar, batteries, electric vehicles and smart appliances. That’s largely been led by utility managed pilot projects, but it is spreading to include incentive programs to boost customer adoption to help manage the shift to a decarbonized grid...  

APS has been working with Advanced Energy Economy on exploring next-generation approaches to solving this challenge. Target projects range from electric school buses that can power the grid while parked, to generating hydrogen at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant to provide zero-carbon fuel for peaker plants.

Read the entire GTM Squared piece here (sub. req.).

Topics: AEE In The News