By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic
A nearly $1 billion expansion of a gas-burning power plant in Coolidge got the green light to proceed Monday after hours of public testimony in opposition and debate among a divided Salt River Project board of directors.
The public power and water utility plans to spend as much as $953 million to build 16 new quick-start generators to the Coolidge Generating Station, more than doubling the size of the plant.
SRP officials said the expansion was needed to meet the periods of heaviest electricity demand — hot summer afternoons — in the rapidly growing Phoenix area.
Opponents of the project mainly focused on the carbon emissions a new fossil fuel plant would emit for years to come, contributing to climate change. They noted its construction would happen asSRP has pledged to reduce carbon and focus heavily on renewable solar, wind and battery storage to power its more than 1 million customers.