Arizona Corporation Commissioners hold Summer Preparedness and Energy Reliability Summit

Published on May 01, 2023 by Chris Galford

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In a bid to garner strategies for maintaining electricity and gas service during the heat of summer and beyond, Arizona Corporation Commissioners (ACC) Jim O’Connor and Lea Márquez Peterson recently chaired a statewide Summer Preparedness and Energy Reliability Summit.

That meeting gathered together Arizona’s largest utilities to discuss the heat and its impacts on the grid, cybersecurity, physical security, and related issues of resource adequacy, customer loads, and reliable power supplies. While utilities are expected to explore large-scale batteries and flexible natural gas turbines to shore up possible capacity gaps in generation by 2026, they also maintained that the state is prepared for the hottest days to come and the demands they will bring.

Still, attendees emphasized paying attention to rising temperatures and economic growth in the region, as both could impact power demands on the system. These demands are part of the reason diversification is growing in the state, and representatives from Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power both highlighted a need for a more diversified generation. Already, supply chain disruptions and tight supplies are an issue, but the growing economy and new developments have strengthened the need not just to expand generation but to do so quickly.

The commissioners noted how companies could manage supply chain risks, ensure timely grid resource deployment, balance regional loads, and improve local infrastructure. They also encouraged companies to rely on mature technologies to expand their capabilities. The Commission itself will monitor the criteria utilities use to calculate resource planning and promote ways to expand customer-centric demand response programs amid the ongoing growth.

Extreme natural weather remains a concern for Arizona, from wildfires to droughts, so utilities at the meeting noted efforts to plot grid resilience, prevent wildfires and improve the state’s capacity to manage and respond when they occur.