By Ryan Randazzo || The Arizona Republic
The Salt River Project board of directors punished four of its members Monday because they worked with environmental groups fighting the utility’s plans to expand the Coolidge gas plant.
The SRP leaders who approved the sanctions said the four members undermined the credibility of the public utility by coordinating with Sierra Club. The resolution they approved said Sierra Club was an “adversary” because of its opposition to the gas plant.
Meanwhile, Sierra Club activists protested outside the SRP board room as the debate took place inside. The protesters Monday said the utility is not transitioning quickly enough to clean energy.
The day’s events highlight an intensifying political debate over how the public utility supplies power to the region.
In June, the four board members signed a letter ghost written by Sierra Club and submitted to state regulators who rejected the gas plant expansion.
Most of the rest of the board voted to strip them of their committee work through the end of the year. The board committees are where rate hikes, new power plants and other major actions must first win approval before the full board votes on them.
Board members Randy Miller, Krista O’Brien, Nick Brown and Kathy Mohr-Almeida will not vote on those committees through the end of December. Among the four of them, they serve 17 different committee positions.
“This is crazy. Why are we being attacked for expressing our opinions?” Miller said Monday as his peers discussed the punishment.