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Study: Renewable Energy Ready to Help Arizona Meet EPA Carbon Goals

A new study says Arizona could meet EPA carbon reduction goals by speeding up solar and wind power projects already in the planning stages. Credit: Salt River Project
A new study says Arizona could meet EPA carbon reduction goals by speeding up solar and wind power projects already in the planning stages. Credit: Salt River Project
November 24, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona needs to take full advantage of the wind and solar resources it already has, says a new study about how the state could meet its carbon-reduction goals for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan by the 2030 deadline.

Researchers at the Tucson-based Sonoran Institute and Arizona State University say the state could reach more than half of its goal by fast-tracking renewable energy projects already in the planning stages.

John Shepard, program director for the Sonoran Institute, says many could be "shovel-ready" within two years.

"The study included a build-out scenario that relied on projects that are in various stages of planning and permitting, that we think can get built and be generating power by 2022," says Shepard.

But Arizona officials have joined with more than half of the 50 states in a lawsuit, claiming the EPA plan is unconstitutional and interferes with states' rights. The Clean Power Plan is a cornerstone of President Obama's environmental agenda.

The plan requires Arizona to reduce its carbon emissions by 32 percent, but it's up to the state how to accomplish that goal. Shepard says using wind and solar resources isn't a complete solution to meeting the EPA requirements, but it's a good start.

"It gets us a long way there," he says. "It was not intended to say we would only do it this way, but that this could be a big part of how Arizona responds to the rule."

Shepard says the study's authors believe renewable energy is preferable to replacing coal with natural gas as a way to generate cleaner power. He says wind and solar go much further toward reducing the state's carbon footprint.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ