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Salt River Project Board Fails to Scrutinize $1 Billion in New Customer Costs

For Immediate Release

According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Wildfire: Igniting Community Action to End Poverty in Arizona, the elected Salt River Project Board of Directors today failed SRP customers by approving 16 gas units at the cost of approximately $1 billion dollars without proper scrutiny.

Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, stated, “Nearly one billion dollars for 16 gas units is a hefty expenditure and one that the SRP Board should not have approved without answers to basic questions.” Brown added, “The SRP Board made a nearly billion dollar decision to build 16 gas units with ratepayer money without knowing the projected impact on monthly electricity bills or the total cost over time including fuel and maintenance. The SRP Board, stakeholders, and customers remain in the dark about the inputs used for load forecasts and the specific factors and scenarios contemplated in the Coolidge Expansion Project -- which is not the way a utility should conduct business.”

Cynthia Zwick said her group is “disappointed” with the recent decision to move forward with the expansion of the Coolidge Generating Station without an open process for stakeholder review and discussion. Zwick said, “Without knowing the costs that will be passed along to residential and, of greatest concern to Wildfire, low-income customers, minimally the SRP Board should have delayed their vote.”

Over the years, both the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Wildfire have participated in robust SRP stakeholder processes on topics ranging from programs to assist limited-income customers to the development of the utility’s 2035 Sustainability Goals. The organizations stated the lack of stakeholder and ratepayer engagement in the proposal to expand the Coolidge Expansion Project was the “antithesis” of those proceedings.

Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Wildfire noted that a decision of this magnitude -- which occurred in three weeks -- points to the need for SRP to commit to holding a stakeholder meeting at least a month prior to any major policy decision(s) to present Management’s proposal, answer questions, seek input, and facilitate an understanding of varied perspectives, as well as to conduct All-Source RFPs to identify options for resources and potential impacts on consumers. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund also provided additional suggestions in its letter to the SRP Board prior to the vote.

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