In 2022, Arizona’s economy was ranked 18th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP). The state’s economy is dependent on the high-tech manufacturing, transportation, mining, agriculture, and tourism industries.
In 2006, Arizona enacted a Renewable Energy Standard, which requires all utilities to sell 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
Power Generation Capabilities
In June 2023, utilities used natural gas (45.5%), nuclear energy (28.7%), renewable energy (17.7%), and coal (8.1%) to generate electricity in Arizona. Solar, hydropower, and wind are the dominant types of renewable energy to generate electricity in Arizona.
In June 2023, the average cost of residential electricity in Arizona was 14.28¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 16.11¢ per kWh.
Recent renewable energy developments in Arizona include:
- 600 MW Solar Project – South Korean company, Hanwha Energy has announced plans to build the Jove Solar Project at a site approximately 75 miles west-northwest of the state capital, Phoenix.
- 477 MW Wind Project – Utah Renewable energy company, S-Power is continuing work on the Chevelon Butte Wind project at a site approximately 100 miles northeast of Phoenix. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2023.
- 285 MW Solar + 215 MW Energy Storage Project – Massachusetts renewable energy company, Longroad Energy is continuing work on the Sun Streams 3 solar plus energy storage projects at a site approximately 10 miles west of Phoenix. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2024.
- 260 MW Energy Storage Project – In June 2023, NextEra Energy commissioned the Sonoran Energy Center at a site approximately 25 miles west of Phoenix.
- 250 MW Energy Storage Project – Arizona utility, Salt River Project is continuing work on the Sierra Estrella energy storage project at a site approximately 15 miles west of The project is scheduled to be commissioned by September 2024.
- 100 MW Energy Storage Project – In June 2023, NextEra Energy commissioned at the site of the Saint Solar project, which is located approximately 40 miles southwest of Phoenix.
- 90 MW Energy Storage Project – Salt River Project is continuing work on an energy storage project at a site approximately 20 miles southwest of The project is scheduled to be commissioned by September 2024.
- 50 MW Energy Storage Project – People’s Republic of China state-owned company, Canadian Solar is continuing work on the Papago Storage energy project at a site approximately 100 miles northwest of Phoenix. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2025.
Coal was first mined over 700 years ago by Native Americans in what is now the state of Arizona. Coal was initially used for firing pottery and as a heating fuel.
Arizona’s last coal mine, Black Mesa ceased operations in 2019. The coal that fuels Arizona’s coal-fired power plants is transported by rail primarily from New Mexico and Wyoming.
In 2010, 41.8% of Arizona’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants. In June 2023, only 8.1% of Arizona’s electricity was generated from coal. Why the decrease?
- Economics – The cost to generate power from wind, solar, and hydropower is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
- Environment – Coal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was reported to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America.
- Climate Change – Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.
In 2020, Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electric utility announced it plans to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. The utility’s plan includes eliminating all coal-fired power plants by 2031.
Coal mining has been an integral part of Arizona’s economy for hundreds of years. In 2023, the “Grand Canyon” State is giving coal the cold shoulder and turning to clean, low-cost renewable energy.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy issues.