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Renewable energy ballots in Arizona may spell the end for Palo Verde nuclear station

Arizona’s nuclear power caught in crossfire, A renewable energy ballot measure could shutter the largest nuclear plant in the country. High Country News, Elena Saavedra Buckley  July 27, 2018 “……. in the light of a controversial ballot measure meant to steer Arizona towards renewable energy, Palo Verde’s fate has been caught in the crossfire of a battle between state utilities and environmentalists.

Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, a committee backed by former Californian hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, drives the initiative. They submitted over twice the amount of signatures needed to get on the ballot. If successful, the measure would constitutionally require Arizona utilities to use 50 percent renewable resources by 2030, holding them accountable for certain percentages each year.

But Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, funded a lawsuit filed last week against the initiative. The political action group that filed the suit claims most of the signatures are fraudulent, which the initiative denies. The utility has bigger worries than the signatures, though — they’re worried the measure would force Palo Verde to close in six years. An oversupply of solar, they say, would render the plant useless.

………..In Nevada, an identical, Steyer-backed measure is already on the ballot. If the measures pass in November, the two states will join California as the West’s most ambitious examples of renewable commitment.

…….. Beyond Arizona, nuclear energy’s place in the carbon-free future of the West is an open question. In California, whose renewable goal is already 50 percent by 2030, nuclear plants have closed decades before their licensed expiration dates, struggling to compete with cheaper natural gas and solar. Whether nuclear plants should stay open as a stable alternative to fossil fuels divides environmentalists. Amanda Ormond of the Western Grid Group, which promotes incorporating clean energy into the grid, thinks nuclear power is an obstacle to a functional renewable future.

“Transitions have costs, and this is a huge transition,” Ormond said of the ballot measure’s proposals. “Palo Verde might close anyway. It’s an inflexible, expensive resource, and it will face the consequences of any resource.”

…….. Time and legislative obstacles stand in the way of the Clean Energy initiative. But even if it fails, numbers show that Arizona voters are ready for renewables—in two recent polls, Arizonans wanted their state to prioritize solar power over all other resources. “We’re moving to renewable energy,” Ormond. “The question is how fast.”…….https://www.hcn.org/articles/energy-industry-arizona-nuclear-power-caught-in-crossfire

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July 28, 2018 - Posted by | politics, USA

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