COOLIDGE — The proposed expansion of the Salt River Project plant in southern Coolidge could prove to be a big moneymaker for the city and county.
The utility says the expansion would help SRP integrate more renewable energy resources into the power grid and provide reliable power to its rapidly growing customer base during times of peak electricity demand, including some of the hottest days in Arizona’s summer season.
The city of Coolidge will not be making the decision, as this must come from the Arizona Corporation Commission, said Coolidge City Manager Rick Miller. The ACC will have an open meeting in March to discuss the expansion.
Miller explained the issue to the Coolidge City Council at its Monday night meeting.
The city would anticipate receiving about $900,000 on construction taxes if the expansion is approved, though those funds are for just one time and not recurring.
In lieu of taxes, Miller expects for the city to receive $76 million by 2033 from the nonprofit entity, beginning after the expansion is completed. Pinal County each year would receive $18.5 million, while Coolidge would get $10.8 million.
The Coolidge Unified School District’s share would be $31.6 million, and Central Arizona College would receive $11.4 million.
Miller said the payments would continue to roll in well after 2033.
In construction tax, the state would receive $1.2 million, while the Coolidge share would be the $900,000 and Pinal County would get $360,000.
SRP has indicated there would be hundreds of jobs during the construction phase of the expansion. Miller thinks once the plant is complete and operating there will be very few employees added.
The station would add 820 megawatts of capacity that would be produced by 16 natural gas turbines capable of ramping up to full production within 10 minutes. This is enough energy to power about 150,000 average homes when there is high electricity demand, with half of the 16 turbines in use at the beginning.
If the ACC approves the expansion, construction would likely begin in 2023 for eight of the natural gas turbines, with the other eight being in operation by the summer of 2025.
“There is a local benefit of the expansion and a benefit to the (electric) grid,” Miller said, pointing out the electricity generated at the plant would be used for SRP’s Maricopa County customers.
Miller said there are revenue streams for wind and solar projects, but there are several factors in how productive they can be in contrast to this proposed expansion using natural gas.