All eyes are on the US Senate this weekend, as President Biden’s signature climate bill goes up for a vote under the newly minted name of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Among the mysteries is how Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema will vote. Fossil energy stakeholders have been putting on the squeeze on her, but the growing renewable energy lobby could have the upper hand.
Place Your Bets On Renewable Energy, Or Maybe Not
For those of you jumping the gun in anticipation of the climate bill heading for President Biden’s signature next week, there is plenty to keep you up late at night.
Our friends over at Energy and Policy have taken note of the forces at work on Senator Sinema…
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) are leading the attacks, which are designed to peel away the support of Arizona Sen. Kristen Sinema, the remaining lynchpin to the Democrats’ effort to pass a party-line bill. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has joined the national groups in backing an avalanche of ads attacking the bill in that state.”
…but, they also underscore the other forces:
“Several utility companies who have expressed support for the bill, even specifically telling shareholders that the 15% minimum tax will not pose a threat to their profits, are members of the industry associations attacking the bill.”
Go figure! Energy and Policy reported that the CEO of Arizona Public Service (APS), Jeff Guldner, has said “the legislation would be broadly good for APS and its customers.”
Energy and Policy also adds this nugget:
“APS is a key stakeholder in the Arizona Chamber, one of only three “Champion Level” members, along with Salt River Project, another utility, and Cox Communications. SRP has said it supports the clean energy measures in the legislation.”
More Renewable Energy For Arizona
For those of you betting on the renewable energy side, one thing that could tip the balance is a newly announced long distance renewable energy transmission line that gives Arizona a head start on the transmission and grid reliability provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act.
The US Department of the Interior has the scoop on that project. On July 14, it issued a press release informing the public that the proposed Ten West Link Transmission Line project has its seal of approval. The new power line “represents another significant milestone in efforts to lower consumers’ energy costs and modernize America’s power infrastructure in the West by permitting at least 25 gigawatts of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands by 2025,” they enthused.
“The Ten West Link route traverses a region with some of the highest potential for utility-scale solar photovoltaic energy development in the nation,” they add. “The project will provide critical transmission infrastructure to support the development of future utility-scale solar energy resources and will boost the reliability of the bulk power system for millions of customers in Central Arizona and Southern California.”
More Power Lines For More Clean Power
Ten West Link is not the only proposed transmission line aimed at juicing Arizona’s renewable energy industry along with that of its neighboring states.
CleanTechnica has also been tracking the massive $8 billion SunZia clean power line. “The Intertubes are absolutely exploding with news that [the] biggest renewable energy infrastructure project in the history of the US is on track to begin construction next year, that being a new 550-mile transmission line and a 3,000-megawatt wind farm aimed at shuttling clean kilowatts between New Mexico and Arizona,” we remarked just last month.
Then there’s the green hydrogen angle, of course. Last February, Heliogen, a concentrating solar power startup with some serious financial firepower behind it, announced that it is making headway on a green hydrogen project in Arizona at the California border.
As For The Chamber Of Commerce…
Fossil energy stakeholders still appear to have a stranglehold on the Chamber of Commerce and other leading business organizations here in the US, but their influence has been under threat from other trade groups that have been lobbying on behalf of the Inflation Reduction Act, including the Solar Energy Industries Association and America’s Clean Power among others.
In addition, leading manufacturers and other businesses are hungry for more renewable energy, and that goes for Arizona, too.
Earlier this spring, CleanTechnica’s Jennifer Sensiba took note of an article in AZBIGMEDIA that summarized activity in the areas of EV and battery manufacturing, among other areas.
“The big message? Arizona seems to be doing a great job of attracting and keeping these businesses,” she wrote.
Aalgae biofuel also makes the list. Back in 2012, Arizona scored $15 million in Energy Department funding to establish the nation’s premier algae biofuel research station. It’s been a long slog for algae biofuel and there is more slogging to come, but last spring AZ Central took note of a new twist that could finally make algae biofuel happen.
“Scientists in Arizona have been cultivating algae for several years, but this time, ASU researchers are working on a project with the city of Mesa in hopes of turning wastewater byproducts into fuel and other products,” AZ Central reported. “They want to harness the way algae naturally works to coax another use out of the gases that would otherwise be emitted as a result of the necessary process of breaking down human-produced wastewater.”
More Good News For Clean Power Fans In Arizona
Circling back around to the green electricity grid of the future, there is plenty of wiggle room for wind and solar developers to put down stakes in Arizona.
The latest update from the US Energy Information Agency tells the tale. In 2021, natural gas was way out in front for power generation at 43%, with nuclear coming in a strong second at 28%. The rest came from coal (13%), solar (9%), hydroelectric (5%), wind (1%), and other (1% for pumped hydro storage, petroleum, and biomass combined).
“Arizona’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is the largest nuclear power plant, the largest net generator of electricity, and, with a net summer capacity of 3,937 megawatts, the second-largest power plant of any kind in the nation,” EIA also observes.
On the plus side, compared to other states Arizona’s solar power profile is coming on strong. “In 2021, Arizona ranked fifth in the nation in solar-powered electricity generation at utility-scale and small-scale installations. Solar energy provided the state with more power than all of Arizona’s other renewable energy sources combined,” EIA notes.
Keep an eye on Arizona if and when the Inflation Reduction Act is still alive after this weekend. The other holdout was Senator Joe Manchin, who apparently was angling for space to construct the new Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline in his home state of West Virginia. It will be interesting to see what kind of bacon Senator Sinema will bring home to Arizona.
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Image credit: Ten West Link clean power transmission line courtesy of Ten West Link.
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