Sustainability news

Conservation and stewardship are at the core of Salt River Project’s culture. We demonstrate our commitment to these values through the choices we make in operating our facilities.

Whether we are working with community partners or researching emerging technologies there is always a new project happening. Learn more about these efforts below.


SRP and City of Phoenix partner to plant trees

The first of many new trees being planted throughout Phoenix as part of the Right Tree/Right Place program.

Nearly 1,200 trees will be planted in parks, schools and public areas as part of the Right Tree/Right Place program developed through a partnership between SRP and the city of Phoenix. The program identifies trees throughout the city that are encroaching on power lines, removes them, and either replants a power-line friendly tree in place or plants replacement trees at city parks, schools or neighborhoods located near the removal areas. Initially, 400 trees from around the city will be removed and replaced improving the safety and electrical reliability for SRP and local neighborhoods.

“The Right Tree/Right Place program will provide Phoenicians with beautiful trees and shade while helping SRP fulfill our obligation to our customers to provide safe and reliable electricity,” said Kelly Barr, SRP associate general manager corporate services and chief sustainability executive.

Each year, SRP Vegetation Management crews trim or remove thousands of trees growing directly under SRP’s distribution and transmission lines that pose risks to electric service reliability and public safety. The Right Tree/Right Place program will reduce this need and sequester an estimated 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to reducing annual emissions from 1,050 passenger vehicles and energy used to power 529 homes.

“The City Council is committed to reducing the urban heat-island effect by doubling the current tree and shade canopy to 25% by 2030,” said Phoenix District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski. “By partnering with SRP, we are using the team Phoenix approach to help us achieve that goal by planting more trees in a smarter way. We are removing trees from potentially dangerous situations and planting new trees in areas where additional shade is needed.”

Reducing our footprint

Workplace charging program largest in Arizona

Jen Wennerlund, Senior IT Analyst, Cartographic & GIS Services, was one of the first employees to drive an electric vehicle to work when she joined SRP in 2013.

It came down to numbers when SRP’s workplace charging program was confirmed as the largest in Arizona. As of 2017, there were 147 charging stations at 18 SRP facilities, 71 of which are reserved for employees. Ninety-six employees commute in an electric vehicle (EV) and those using workplace charging logged over 1 million miles. According to one SRP EV owner, it is a “full-on fabulous program.”

There is more to it than miles logged and charging stations though. It is another program that showcases SRP’s dedication to the environment. Fewer gasoline cars means a decrease in pollution due to car emissions. Collectively, SRP employees who use workplace charging have saved more than 250,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and 25,000 gallons of gasoline.

The workplace program is another piece of the puzzle for SRP when it comes to working towards a sustainable future. There is a plan to grow the program in the next six years, which supports SRP’s 2035 Sustainability Goals, by both reducing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing employees’ awareness of and participation in sustainability initiatives.

This effort is furthered when SRP’s customers become EV owners. To that end, SRP is knowledge sharing with its commercial and industrial customers to support them in creating their own workplace charging programs. The EV charging station rebate program gives business customers $500 for each charging port installed. For residential customers, there is the SRP Drive Electric ™ program that provides guidance on selecting an EV and a price plan that best fits their lifestyle.


Drone teams tested and coming to SRP

Research students demonstrate how drones could be used to grab debris out of canals.

“This project features a great balance between real-world problems and fundamental research, which leads to great impact in both industry and academia,” said Dr. Zhang.

Precision position estimation, communications protocols and control algorithms are only a fraction of the work that has been completed by ASU’s Dr. Wenlong Zhang’s students to create “teams” of drones. The new drone teams, which have been successfully tested, are destined to become a part of SRP.

What role could a team of drones potentially fill? Thus far, they have been used to perform collaborative tasks such as land surveillance, ash pond monitoring and collecting water and soil samples. The new technology provides an efficient way to access remote locations and even urban ones, such as the canals, to take samples. The data is then transmitted in real-time to SRP scientists, speeding up the analysis and detection of issues.

SRP has had a research agreement with the ASU Tempe campus for more than 35 years and added a contract specifically for Polytechnic in 2012, with grants going to the campus’s Advanced Technology Innovation Center. The Polytechnic partnership targets projects related to key utility issues and renewable and sustainable energy – and it has thrived.

“It’s really a success story in that the program has grown a lot,” said SRP’s Chico Hunter, Manager, Research & Environmental Policy. “It helps keep us in touch with what is going on and how we can apply it to SRP’s research needs.”


Sustainable sub-zero industrial freezer first in the state

In Jan. 2018, Bashas’ distribution center in the Phoenix metro area became a research lab when new technology engineered by Viking Cold Solutions was installed.

The Viking Cold Thermal Energy Storage (TES) technology stores thermal energy at night by freezing food-safe Phase Change Material (PCM) specially formulated to freeze at -18°F. The refrigeration equipment then runs significantly less during peak hours, and the freezer “rides” the PCM to maintain stable temperatures and protect the food. The TES provides energy and cost savings for customers with industrial freezers, such as Bashas', and also provides long-term benefits to all SRP customers by reducing peak demand.

The project was a result of a partnership between SRP, Viking Cold Solutions and Bashas’ Family of Stores. SRP is collaborating with Arizona State University's School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment , along with Nexant's Utility Services Group , to measure the results of the project. Results will be used to extrapolate the potential impact of this technology on additional low-temperature refrigeration loads in the Phoenix area.


Solar farm to expand providing Navajo Nation with more renewable energy

In January, a landmark agreement to expand the Kayenta Solar generation facility was signed by the the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) and Salt River Project. The expansion of the solar plant, named Kayenta II, on the Navajo Nation will provide more renewable energy to the Nation and paves the way for future renewable energy projects.

Currently, the 27.3 megawatt Kayenta Solar Project provides electricity to Navajo communities served by NTUA, generating power for an estimated 18,000 homes. At the height of construction close to 278 people, of whom 236 (85%) were of Navajo descent, worked on the project. It is expected that Kayenta II will employ a greater number of Navajo for the workforce.

In addition, the Navajo workforce was paid $5.2 million and received over 4,700 hours of specialized training in solar utility construction for the Kayenta Solar Project. Kayenta II is expected to produce similar salaries for the Navajo workforce. The construction also generated $3,017,055 in taxes paid to the Navajo Nation. Overall, it is estimated that $15.6 million in economic activity occurred within the surrounding communities during the construction period.

The Kayenta II will generate an additional 27.3 MW and will take advantage of the existing interconnect, the trained workforce, and existing site. Kayenta II is scheduled for Commercial Operation on May 1, 2019.

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