APS customers could pay hundreds of millions to maintain 50-year-old coal plant

Trucks carry coal from the Navajo Mine to the Four Corners Generating Station, which is mostly owned by Arizona Public Service, in New Mexico in 1973. Two units are still in use today.
/Wikimedia Commons

By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times

Last month, Unit 4 of the Four Corners Power Plant, the coal-powered generating station, celebrated its 50th birthday. Next July, Unit 5 will celebrate the same milestone.

Four Corners, located near Fruitland, Mexico, is one of the country’s oldest, largest coal-fired power plants. It is majority-owned by utilities in Arizona, and largely (63 percent) by Arizona Public Service. 

Like computers, cars, and most any other technology, these coal-fired units lose efficiency over time, but APS is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into keeping them online. Would you spend $10,000 fixing an aging car when you could put that toward a more economical hybrid? Probably not.

Nonetheless, that’s what people in Arizona could be forced to do, should APS succeed in its requests to the Arizona Corporation Commission to pass on to customers the cost of pollution scrubbers, which were installed last year and in 2017, on the half-century-old power plants.

Depending on what regulators decide in the coming months, APS’s residential and business customers could soon see an increase of anywhere from $2.47 to nearly $5,000 in their monthly bills solely to pay for $400 million of this required pollution control technology, according to the company’s own projections, obtained by Phoenix New Timesvia public records request.


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