Divided SRP board OKs expansion of gas-burning power plant

PHHOENIX — The Salt River Project’s board of directors was sharply divided as it approved a plan to more than double the size of a natural gas-burning power plant in Coolidge to provide additional electricity for metro Phoenix during peak-use periods.

The board voted 8-6 Monday for a $953 million expansion of the Coolidge Generating Station after hearing hours of testimony dominated by opposition to the project, the Arizona Republic reported.

Opponents mainly focused on carbon emissions that would contribute to climate change while SRP officials said the planned additional generators’ quick-start capability would give the utility flexibility to include more power generated by wind and solar.

SRP Associate General Manager Kelly Barr said the expansion would provide the grid a “reliability backbone” and allow SRP to add more renewable energy.

Opponents of the plan also questioned whether SRP was rushing approve a project announced in late August, but the board rejected a motion to delay the decision for a month while the board investigates alternatives.

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