- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) - An Arizona utility regulator has suggested that nuclear energy should count as a renewable power source, allowing it to compete with solar and wind.

Environmental advocates don’t generally consider nuclear power plants renewable because the uranium that fuels them must be mined, reported The Arizona Republic (https://bit.ly/2hitoC0 ).

Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin, one of five members on the panel that regulates utilities, proposed the change in a letter that implies he never supported the Renewable Energy Standard the state passed in 2006. The rules didn’t include nuclear energy as a renewable source.

That legislation requires utilities like the Arizona Public Service Co. to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Currently, solar, wind and geothermal energy count toward that goal but nuclear does not. Arizona Corporation Commission chairman Doug Little proposed doubling that goal in August. He said that would put Arizona more in line with the goals of other western states.

Arizona is home to the country’s most productive nuclear power plant, Palo Verde Generating station, which is about 50 miles west of Phoenix. It supplies about a quarter of the electricity for the state’s biggest power company.

If that plant counted as renewable energy, it would reduce the amount of solar, wind and other resources needed to fulfill the 2025 goal.

Tobin has proposed setting a “Clean Peak Standard” that would include traditional renewable sources as well as the amount of nuclear energy power plants produce when electricity demand is highest.

“The Clean Peak Standard offers great promise in moving the commission away from an obsolete commitment to arbitrary renewable energy goals that ignore significant zero-emission resources like Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station or other emerging technologies like energy storage,” Tobin wrote in his letter.

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Information from: The Arizona Republic, https://www.azcentral.com

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