Sunday, July 26, 2009

Filling the Gap

SOS Solar ArrayArizona’s largest electric utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), has eschewed coal in their most recent annual, long-term Resource Plan. In doing so, they have unimaginatively whittled down ‘options’ to a lone candidate: renukeable ™ energy.

Arizona’s projected growth will demand a dramatic increase in the availability of electricity. Under the current budget crisis, it is difficult to imagine Arizona’s leadership hustling to address the enormous costs of expanding nuclear energy, let alone to confront the myriad other issues that surround nuclear energy. Could the best hope lie in what must be the secret wish of many . . . stalled growth? The very thought is antithetical to a culture habituated to unrestrained expansion.

In any event, nuclear energy is a long-term measure. It would take more than a decade before new capacity might be available. The demands are more immediate.

Arizona's Growing Energy Gap

Because of both heightened demand and heat’s suppressive effects on the distribution grid, it is also possible that global warming may exacerbate the challenge of delivering sufficient electricity during Arizona’s intensely hot, summer peak demand periods.

The budget crisis will likely also prevent Arizona from employing the short-term measure of importing additional energy.

The comeuppance for Arizona’s long history of repressive rate schedules and the decades-long delay of its solar destiny may be at hand. Will Arizona become a national treasure or a national tragedy?


  1. An interesting perspective. What do you propose to fill your "gap"?

  2. Hi “DB Cooper”, thanks for your question. “Filling” may not be the best term. The responsibility of closing the looming energy gap belongs to all of us.

    I propose that we first rationalize the utility rate schedules. Without first rectifying this fundamental imbalance, other important efforts will remain half-measures. Inaccurate price signals will continue to confound the feedback from other actions and defeat our understanding.

    Notwithstanding Jevons Paradox, broad and lasting energy efficiency programs must be enacted and be accompanied by educational programs.

    All new construction should conform to rigorous building codes with equally rigorous inspection and enforcement. Much existing, poor construction will be an increasing burden that will defeat investments in retrofitting. We should prepare for maintenance crises.

    Because our energy needs are urgent, the process of reducing demand must be paralleled with efforts to increase generation. Long-term, sustainable solutions should be emphasized. I believe that solar energy is such a solution for Arizona.