Arizona's Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant

Electricians, electrical contractors and electrical customers alike all have a vested interest in Arizona's energy landscape. One of the landmarks on that scene is the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant.

With concern about climate change at an all-time high, the Palo Verde Nuclear Energy Plant generates a lot of excitement as a carbon-free power source. It’s been the top power-producing facility for 24 consecutive years and in 2015 set the production record to become the #1 nuclear power producing plant in the world.

 Navajo Power Generating Station, supplied by Arizona's only coal mine, Kayenta

Navajo Power Generating Station, supplied by Arizona's only coal mine, Kayenta

Palo Verde provides power for 4 million people in 4 states. Also, it provides 35% of Arizona’s electrical energy. Seven power companies share ownership of it, including APS, SRP, and power companies in New Mexico, Southern California, and Texas. Seven power companies own it, but since APS owns 30%, it takes care of most plant maintenance operations.


Arizona's Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station was built in 1986 and rated at 3,937 net megawatts, is the largest nuclear power plant and the second biggest power plant of any kind in the nation. While other nuclear power plants are located next to a body of water, the innovative system at Palo Verde uses wastewater from Phoenix as it’s core-cooling water source. 20,000 gallons per minute are required for each of the three reactors at the station. It uses 80 million gallons a day when operating at full capacity.

An Arizona wastewater treatment plant on 91st Ave, and another in Tolleson supply the Palo Verde with the wastewater which provides 97% of the water it needs. The other 3% comes from groundwater.

 Palo Verde Nuclear power plant

Palo Verde Nuclear power plant

Even though we have an exciting nuclear power program, Arizona also ranked second in the nation in utility-scale electricity generation from solar energy in 2014. As solar energy costs drop, more homes and small businesses will turn to solar power as their primary source of power. Even though Arizona is the 15th most populous state, we ranked 44th in the nation in per capita energy consumption in 2013, partly because of the state’s small industrial sector.

Arizona's only operating coal mine, Kayenta, on the Navajo and Hopi reservations, supplies the Navajo Generating Station's three 750-megawatt units with the 7-to-8 million short tons they burn annually. Plans are to close the mine, which will probably close the power station, as well. You can read more about that here.

Arizona's Renewable Environmental Standard requires 15% of the state’s electricity consumed in 2025 to come from renewable energy resources; in 2014, 8.9% of Arizona’s net electricity generation came from renewable resources, primarily from the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.
Twenty-five percent of the energy consumed in Arizona homes is for air conditioning, which is more than four times the national average of 6 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information System's Residential Energy Consumption Survey.  

 The number of solar energy users in Arizona continues to grow exponentially as the price drops.

The number of solar energy users in Arizona continues to grow exponentially as the price drops.


One thing is for certain, though: with Arizona’s utility companies making noises about new demand rate structuring for residential homes, more and more customers will be looking at solar as a better option. Considering the number of residences with solar has risen exponentially in the last year, and considering that the solar companies and electric companies are quietly negotiating without making solar into a political issue, energy in Arizona is something that anyone who uses it should be watching.  To schedule a tour, call 623-393-5959. If you’d like to learn more about the Palo Verde Arizona Nuclear Energy Education Center, you can do so here.