State Capitol News
3:48 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Sonora and Arizona Talk Electric Power Sharing

The governors of Arizona and Sonora are meeting today in Tucson on cross border issues. One issue involves promoting the sale of electricity into Mexico.

Mexican law has been changed so the state-owned monopoly electric company is now required to buy low-cost energy from private firms. That includes companies in Arizona where there is an excess of power from gas-fired generators -- assuming the power can get from here to there. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says she likes the idea of cross-border sales. But the issues go beyond technical. One is whether increased demand for energy from Mexico will drive up costs for Arizona consumers.

"That's an issue that probably needs to be determined," Brewer said. "The Corporation Commission would be in charge of that. That's why I weighed in at the meeting to establish the opportunity task force just to see exactly how it will affect the things that usually take place when you do something like that."

David Hutchens, president of Tucson Electric Power, said he's not worried.

"There's enough to go around," Hutchens said. "Sure it would probably pick it up a little bit from where it is today. But still, depending on how interconnected we are and how far into Mexico and how much load they brought on, that's a long term and, to me, kind of a high-class problem."

He also conceded the excess supply might disappear if federal environmental regulations force closure of the state's coal-fired power plants.