Friday, September 16, 2011

Revisiting Arizona's Solar vs. Virginia's Coal

A few years back, I did a post about two states making divergent energy choices - Arizona picking renewable power, Virginia picking coal.

So how's solar power working for Arizona?
About 850 construction workers have descended on Gila Bend to work on the plants this summer, and about double that number are expected next year as the largest alternative-energy project in the state, the Solana Generating Station [at right], ramps up construction. [...]

Abel Ortiz, 49, of Buckeye, had been out of work for months before landing a job as a laborer at the power plant.

He said the pay assembling the solar-panel arrays was good. Normally, a labor job would pay about $8 an hour, but he's making more than $10 an hour, he said. [...]

The two small plants have a combined 34 megawatts of capacity, and Solana has 280, putting the economic benefit to Gila Bend north of $300 million from the current projects.

"These projects have been taking a lot of folks that have been unemployed and putting them to work," Geisler said.
Meanwhile, electricity prices in Virginia are up about 35 percent since 2005. Electric rates in Arizona have increased somewhat, but there's one major difference: While Arizona has incentivized efficiency, the Virginia General Assembly still tells Dominion Virginia Power to make more profit by selling you more juice.

So while Arizona Public Service Co. will be trying to cut its customers' electricity use 22 percent by 2020, Dominion Virginia Power expects demand to increase 30 percent by 2026. That means lower electricity bills in Arizona and higher electricity bills in Virginia.
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