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Utility Updates Renewable Energy Commitment

February 23, 2011

PHOENIX - Salt River Project (SRP) wants to know if it's doing enough to generate clean energy. The big utility is reviewing what it calls its "sustainable portfolio." SRP is currently committed to generating 15 percent of its total energy through renewable sources and efficiency by the year 2025.

As an SRP residential customer, William Skown of Mesa thinks when Arizona's economy recovers and growth returns, new SRP power sources should skew heavily toward clean energy and increased efficiency.

"They certainly should do as much as they can to get away from their dirtier energy sources in the mix, and coal in particular, and move towards renewables as well as cleaner, traditional, conventional sources like gas."

SRP will be seeking public input at three meetings in Tempe on March 3, March 21, and April 1.

Gilbert business owner Tina Beattie believes a larger proportion of renewable energy sources will give her more predictability with her SRP electric bill.

"The better 'legs' they get under them in reliable, local generation, the better I can plan, as a business owner, knowing that my utility prices aren't going to go crazy. I think that investment in the future, in renewable sources, makes a lot of sense."

Both Beattie and Skown have solar panels on their homes. Beattie says the payments on her leased system go up three percent each year, but that's less than recent SRP rate hikes.

"So, we're beating the energy market already, let alone from the fact that I pay half of what I used to, for the same amount of energy."

Skown says higher electric rates mean his solar panels will pay for themselves in less than 10 years.

"The returns on investment in solar for residences are very attractive, relative to your other investment opportunities right now."

SRP has nearly a million electric customers in central Arizona and power plants across the state.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ