Dive Brief:

  • Arizona Public Service has turned to national clean energy business group Advanced Energy Economy for help reaching the utility’s 100% clean energy goal by 2050, which will involve shuttering both the Four Corners and Cholla coal-fired power plants.
  • Through the Arizona Clean Energy Future initiative, announced Thursday, APS will receive assistance from 13 companies focused on electrifying transportation, grid flexibility, expanding low-carbon generation capacity and maximizing clean energy use. The utility is also using the partnership to consider carbon capture and modular nuclear generation technologies.
  • APS has said it plans to end its use of coal-fired generation by 2031. On Feb. 11, the Navajo Nation filed to intervene in the utility’s current rate case, indicating it will seek financial support for communities that relied on those power plants for jobs and tax revenues.

Dive Insight:

Right now the clean energy partnership with AEE will not cost customers anything, but future pilots and projects could be included in the utility’s Integrated Resource Plans, Demand Side Management Plans, and Renewable Energy Standards, according to APS officials.

In the utility’s ongoing rate case, however, observers say the Navajo Nation could ask for hundreds of millions or more.

The Navajo previously asked the Arizona Corporation Commission to consider having Tucson Electric Power pay them $100,000 per megawatt for coal capacity the utility owned and which provided jobs and revenue to the tribe. According to the Western Clean Energy Campaign, similar math could mean a request of $200 million or more from APS.

“The Navajo Nation’s government and tribal members will be directly and substantially affected by the proposed transition,” the tribe said in its filing.

“We understand the Navajo Nation has filed for intervention into our rate case, and they are an important stakeholder as we transition from coal,” APS Director of External Communications Jenna Rowell said in a statement.

The utility will need to utilize a variety of new clean energy technologies as it moves towards providing all carbon-free electricity. Companies involved in the APS-AEE partnership include: Arcadia, EnergyHub, EVgo, Form Energy, Highland Electric Transportation, Landis+Gyr, Modern Energy, NuScale Power, Pattern Energy, Recurve, Siemens, sPower and Uplight.

The companies “are putting their own time and resources into this,” AEE Senior Managing Director Lisa Frantzis told Utility Dive. The partnership is a “unique model that could be replicated in other jurisdictions.”

Right now APS and AEE are collaborating in three main work groups focused on transportation electrification, grid flexibility and low-carbon generation. The parties are aiming for a draft plan in July and a final proposal in August.

“The goal is to not think in silos, but as a portfolio of solutions,” Frantzis said. “Everything is on the table at this point.”