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Palo Verde Generating Station: A Vital Resource for Arizona

When you think of the most remarkable landmarks that contribute to the beauty of our state, places like the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, the San Francisco Peaks and Red Rocks of Sedona are likely on the list.

There’s another important landmark that may not be top of mind but is crucial to Arizona’s clean air, blue skies and natural environment. Gov. Doug Ducey refers to it as “a crown jewel in the state’s vital infrastructure and one of the greatest examples of Arizona’s pioneering spirit.”

I’m talking about our country’s largest power producer for 25 straight years — the APS-operated Palo Verde Generating Station, located about an hour west of downtown Phoenix. The energy produced there is all clean and carbon free.  

What does that mean for APS customers and all Arizonans? Cleaner air. As the provider of more than 70 percent of the state’s clean electricity, Palo Verde plays a major role in preserving the fragile desert environment we all enjoy. The carbon dioxide release that is avoided because Palo Verde produces this power for our region, rather than conventional sources, is significant. To put it into perspective — imagine 2.8 million cars, and the air pollution they cause, disappearing from our roads each year.

And, because Palo Verde is the only nuclear plant in the United States that does not sit on a large body of water, it helps Arizona conserve precious water supplies by recycling wastewater from local towns and cities to meet the plant’s cooling needs.

As the only emission-free source that can deliver 24/7, nuclear power is key to a cleaner energy future. It provides the reliable, affordable backbone to our diverse energy mix, instrumental in balancing important renewables like solar and wind, which are controlled by Mother Nature and can’t always generate power when Arizonans need it most.

Palo Verde is also essential to fueling Arizona’s economy, infusing $2 billion dollars a year. APS serves as Arizona’s largest single commercial taxpayer, employs more than 2,500 full-time workers and nearly 1,000 seasonal contractors at Palo Verde, and supports thousands of Arizona businesses each year with the purchase of products and services.

The people of Palo Verde Generating Station make a significant positive impact, too. Our employees are engaged in our communities as good neighbors. They donate hundreds of hours of their time and about $1 million each year to local charities; Palo Verde also invests in a diverse future workforce by providing educational opportunities to students who are interested in careers in energy.

The next time you take a moment to admire our state’s beauty, know that Palo Verde is quietly and consistently doing its part as a thriving and vital resource for Arizona, a leader in clean energy production, and by providing a better future for generations to come. FBN

By Bob Bement

Bob Bement is executive vice president and chief nuclear officer at APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electric company.

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One Response to Palo Verde Generating Station: A Vital Resource for Arizona

  1. Ben Bethel September 24, 2018 at 9:56 PM #

    Whoa! Let’s step back a second here…. there are a few problems: 1) the plant uses 140,000 gallons of water per minute to cool its three reactors… that’s enough water to cover Phoenix in 25.4″ of water each year… and nearly enough to empty all of the lakes around Phoenix and refill them – twice – each year. Treated wastewater or not, it’s water that could be going into the aquifer instead of the air. 2) Uranium, if the current administration has their way, could be mined from the Grand Canyon region again soon… if that happens, we’re talking about more contaminated water when mines fill with water and the water has to be misted into the air… that contamination then makes its way into the sources that mule deer, javelina, birds, rodents, and other things start drinking that water… and to the humans who eat anything that just drank that water. 3) If uranium is mined in the region, and under an “America First” requirement, the cost is estimated to quadruple, making the cost of the fuel rods used in reactors far too expensive to keep the plants operating. 4) The cost of the power is higher than the cost of wind, solar, and hydro… especially if you take the future cost of decommissioning Palo Verde into consideration. 5) The cost to decommission the plant – if anywhere close to the costs to decommission plants elsewhere in the world – could be $60 to $120 Billion – yes, that’s Billion with a B – who will pay for this? 7) No mention here of Zero Day exploits found in pumps, valves, and other mechanical parts of the plant that could one day just ‘wake up’ and seize a pump or valve and cause a catastrophe that would require much of Phoenix to evacuate for dozens, if not hundreds of years. 8) It is only a matter of time that this plant will no longer be needed… the power will be too expensive, the risks too high, and the cost to decommission so high that nobody will know how to pay for it. We should be a bit more realistic about this.

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