Thanks to Vox for the cool graphic

Arizona's First Political Blog

E-mail Anonymous Mike at

By Anonymous Mike, pseudonymously.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Shine on You Crazy Diamond

Since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun.

- Montgomery Burns

Well no not really, I just wanted to use that quote and since I am going to write about solar power, well no time like the present.

Front page article in the Arizona Republic, splattered clear across the page like a pigeon on a windshield; Plant to brighten state's solar future . The article is full of delicious yum-yums meant to warm the cockles of environmentalists and those who yearn for Arizona and Phoenix to be "world-class."

A solar-energy plant planned near Gila Bend will be among the world's largest when it opens in 2011, Arizona Public Service Co. said Wednesday....

....At 280 megawatts, enough to power at least 70,000 households, the plant will make even more energy than a similar facility announced in December.

....This is a turning point for APS and the future of the state of Arizona as we move to become the solar capital of the world," APS President Don Brandt said, estimating the Solana plant will cost more than $1 billion and cover 3 square miles.

You getting giddy? I know I am. However when you read further, that feeling turns from giddy to that same feeling you get when you open that electric bill right after the most recent summer heat wave.

APS will pay about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared with about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour from natural-gas plants at peak demand....

...In 2006, state regulators tried to spur development by enacting a renewable-energy standard requiring that utilities get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Brandt said APS would buy energy from Solana even without the mandate.

"Absolutely," he said. "This makes economic and operational sense."

How in the heck does it make economic and operational sense to switch to supplies that will jack up the price of your product by 40%? For that you have to read the end of the article

If the Arizona Corporation Commission approves the project, the next hurdle appears to be the U.S. incentive program. If a tax credit for solar-power plants is not renewed, Solana will not happen, Seage said.

So it only makes "economic and operational sense" for the utility to engage in these transactions if they are subsidized by taxpayers. Presumably the 40% increase in the price of electricity comes after the taxpayer subsidy, so they this project will cost you twice; a 30% investment credit as it is being built and in your monthly electrical bill.

Keep in mind 280 megawatts isn't much, both the Palo Verde nuclear plant and the Santan generating stations produce around 1.2 gigawatts. As the article mentions, the 280 megawatts only covers the predicted annual increase in electricity consumption so to keep the love coming, you will need new Solanas with more taxpayer subsidy and higher electrical prices.