Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

July 3, 2006


Host: Michael Grant

Power Hungry: Arizona's Energy Needs


  • A Horizon Special Horizon examines the demand and supply of the state’s energy needs. We look at current sources, how more energy can be developed and how suppliers are racing to keep up, including the possibility of building a refinery here and adding a pipeline. Finally, we consider alternative sources and new technologies to feed our hunger for energy.
Category: Energy

View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Good evening, I'm Michael Grant. Tonight we bring you a Horizon special covering Arizona's energy needs. We examine the state's supply and demand, as well as alternatives to traditional energy.

Announcer:
Horizon is made possible by contributions of The Friends of Eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Michael Grant:
We start with a look at how this once inhospitable desert valley has been transformed into the energy using hub it is today.

Gary Harper:
Electricity is the key ingredient to just sustaining the lifestyle we're all used to.

Bob Smith:
People just are using energy throughout the day for comfort, for recreation, to get their jobs done.

Joe Sparano:
If the automobile continues to be transportation of choice, the suggestion is, I don't have a crystal ball, it sure looks like the dynamics are such that additional population growth will mean additional and ever-growing demand.

Larry Lemmons:
This is the way we live. We produce and consume energy without giving it a thought, we might switch on a light. Open a refrigerator. Heat up the microwave. Turn on the television. And then the dishwasher. Imagine these actions multiplied millions of times in a single day.

Bob Smith:
You think of 100-watt light bulb, so a thousand watts is a kilowatt, a typical home might use four to five kilowatts at any one time. 1,000 kilowatts is a megawatt, and in general a megawatt will power anywhere from 200 to 250 homes, and then a thousand megawatts is a gigawatt APS's peak load is around 7 gigawatts.

Larry Lemmons:
Did you get that?

Bob Smith:
There are 1,000 watts in a kilowatt, and a thousand kilowatts in a megawatt, and a thousand megawatts in a gigawatt.

Gary Harper:
To give another example of metropolitan Phoenix and its size, in the summer months, again, between us and APS, we'll use in excess of 11,000 megawatts of load on a hot summer day. That is equivalent to like a long island, New York load.

Larry Lemmons:
On the highways and on city streets, and in the air, energy is also needed to power the machines that take us from here to there.

Joe Sparano:
In Arizona, you use about 10, 11 million gallons per day of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Gasoline is by far the largest, about 7 million gallons a day. Arizona is the second fastest growing state in the country, has been for several years, is expected to continue that road. I think there's 6.5 million people here, the projection is 9 million by 2020. All of that suggests a continued and increasing need for product.

Larry Lemmons:
Combined constant growth with constant demand, and It's obvious there's an ever-expanding need for energy. The Arizona department of transportation reports that on-road gasoline consumption since only 1995 has continued to climb to record levels last year. That's not all. Since 1977, we've had a 9\% average annual increase of gross state product. Since 1980, we experienced an average annual increase of population of 3.2\%. Our energy consumption since 1980 increased an average of 2.8\%. Electricity consumption since 1980 increased on average 4.1\%. In homes, it increased 1.6\%. You can see in this graph the rise of energy use in Arizona since 1949. And in this graph, you can see who's using it. Some are in the valley. The blistering desert heat draws people to their thermostats. The ability to cool lives in the desert makes living in the desert possible.

Joe Sparano:
Air conditioning both for houses and industry is really what is a main ingredient, what causes the heavy use in the summer.

Gary Harper:
Homes are larger today, whereas back in the 1960's and 1970's you might have had a 1500-square-foot for an average home, now it's over 2,000.

Larry Lemmons:
As we have seen, the demand for energy is rising constantly in the valley. Energy companies work hard to meet that demand. Rapid growth means supply might lag occasionally, especially when disruption occurs.

Joe Sparano:
Just to put it in perspective, every day it's a challenge because all your gasoline gets here by pipeline. All of the diesel gets here by pipeline. 70\% from California, 30\% from New Mexico and West Texas. In 2003 when there was a pipeline disruption it had a tremendous and immediate effect because 30\% of the supply was taken off the market.

Larry Lemmons:
For power companies, because energy is shared around the country through a network grid, disruption in one place can affect power somewhere else.

Gary Harper:
That's something I think probably most folks don't really understand, is that the wire in their home is connected through other wire to wire in British Columbia, wire in Baja, California, and Mexico, the western grid starts with the Rocky Mountain States, goes all the way west to the coast, and includes parts of California and Baja, California. It's interconnected in a way that things that happen in the Puget Sound area can impact what happens in Arizona.

Larry Lemmons:
As the valley expands, so must the number of plants and transmission lines.

Bob Smith:
Over the next 10 years, our plan actually has about a 40\% to 45\% growth in our total demand. What that means is you've got to have about that much growth in power plants and transmission lines in order to get the power to where the people are.

Larry Lemmons:
Despite the heat, Arizona and particularly the valley, continue to attract people from around the world. They bring with them greater and greater demand for power, as technology and human need converge to expand this hub of energy.

Merry Lucero:
From natural gas to fossil fuels, to electricity, how will energy product providers quench Arizona's thirst for gasoline and satisfy the hunger of our growing population's power needs?

Scott Harrelson:
We're all scrambling right now to meet the needs of what you've described as the exploding population. Getting in front of it is more difficult than ever.

Merry Lucero:
As electricity providers plan for additional generating facilities and transmission lines, they try to keep pace with growth.

Scott Harrelson:
We just sited a 150-mile-long transmission line from west of Phoenix into the southeast valley. We thought we were ahead of the development, but as we noticed through the project, the developers came out of the woodwork and we had a whole new dynamic to work with. So it's increasingly difficult to find an area of town where the so-called middle of nowhere. That really doesn't exist anymore.

Merry Lucero:
Expanding existing facilities is an option, but can pose challenges.

Scott Harrelson:
The need for the power and the decision to build new facilities is an easy one. The location is not. So we understood that while the san tan facility was here long before there was residential community surrounding us, the fact was that if we were going to expand this facility, we were going to have to work very closely with the surrounding neighbors and the town of Gilbert itself, which we did.

Merry Lucero:
They worked with the community on the aesthetics of the facility, placing the plant 15 feet below grade to reduce its visibility. SRP uses the newest technology to operate this 1200-megawatt capacity power plant as efficiently and cleanly as possible.

Garry Barras:
The power production is very much the same. We're still using natural gas, and we're -- and converting water into steam and generating electricity. So the processes themselves are very similar. The size of the equipment, the technology that's currently being used, is much different today than what they had in the old days.

Merry Lucero:
The need must also be met for the resources to operate this facility. Like water and natural gas. Arizona-based pacific Texas corporation has plans for an 800-mile natural gas pipeline from West Texas to our state.

Mike Owens:
What we really need is a new natural gas pipeline to Arizona, because we can hood-to-coast into the power plants that are being built here to produce electricity and then through the grid systems we can sell the electricity on to California, which is what they really need. And because of our growth factor here in Arizona, with all the new housing development and industry coming in, our demand on electricity is just exploding. So these new-fired plants all have to run off natural gas, which is much cleaner burning than the old coal fire or oil burning plants.

Merry Lucero:
He says constructing the pipeline will be the easy part. The company is still seeking regulatory approval.

Mike Owens:
It takes a lot longer to permit a project like that. It takes almost three to four years of paperwork, because you've got environmental and safety and controls, and security aspects to protect the land owners and the areas of the country that you're going through.

Merry Lucero:
Pacific Texas is simultaneously working on another pipeline for refined oil products, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. What most people want to know is, will it benefit consumers?

Mike Owens:
What made America great was competition. So when you have more than one pipeline system in the ground and you have two groups, it's not so of that we're competing, but we have more supply, therefore the cost can go down because the end users, or the consumers of the gas or gasoline can lower their rates because they can buy it cheaper, because there is a competitive cost.

Merry Lucero:
Still, many people ask, does Arizona really need the pipeline?

Mike Owens:
If you don't have a pipeline and you flip the switch, there's no electricity or you go to the gas station and there's no gasoline in the pump, how do you think it gets there? Yes, you see the trucks, or, yes, you see the line, but where does that electricity or gasoline come from originally? It has to come through a pipeline through a tank or generator station for natural gas to produce the end product.

Merry Lucero:
And plans to produce another much demanded end product are in the works. Arizona's first-ever refinery.

Joe Sparano:
Right now there are no refineries. There's a very, very tiny amount of crude oil production from what's called stripper wells. They produce 10 barrels per day or less of crude. Arizona of the 31 states that produce crude, Arizona is the 30th. So very, very small amount. So very little indigenous crude supply, no natural gas or very, very little, no refineries, so 70\% each day of the gasoline, diesel, and jet that Arizona consumers use and businesses comes from California. And almost all of it comes from the California refineries located in Los Angeles area. It's carried by pipelines, about a six-day trip.

Merry Lucero:
Arizona clean fuels is planning a 150,000-barrel a day refinery near Yuma to feed demand for fuel and use the latest clean energy technology.

Glenn McGinnis
When you put that together, it makes sense to build a refinery here. Arizona is a place where the demand is going up substantially. The environmental concerns are strong, but there has been very good acceptance of a new oil refinery here in Arizona. So that is why it is here.

Merry Lucero:
Permitting and financing for the project are still underway. And while a new refinery won't directly lower the price of gas, an additional source doesn't hurt.

Glenn McGinnis
The price at the pump unfortunately is not controlled by refiners. We will not control the pricing, we will sell basically wholesale at our refinery. We will sell it on a market-related pricing basis. I can't say it will lower the price, however, the more supply alternatives that exist, the more competition for the supply.

Merry Lucero:
And that competition typically leads to lower pricing for consumers. ¶ sun, sun, sun here it comes ¶¶

Nadine Arroyo:
The sun, can't live with it, certainly can't live without it. But as we become more conscious of environmental problems, we're realizing that maybe, just maybe, the sun can help us much more than we think. At a time of rising energy costs, the sun has become the alternative solution to our environmental problems and energy saving dilemma. Slowly more and more energy consumers are using solar energy in place of traditional electricity. And many like Chuck Skidmore say this modern technology is a great alternative of producing power.

Chuck Skidmore:
I recognize the importance of doing this sort of thing because we're running out of fossil fuel. This is something we need to do.

Nadine Arroyo:
Skidmore is an energy management engineer in Scottsdale. Although he knows much about the subject, his decision to explore this new technology opened his eyes to more than he had imagined.

Chuck Skidmore:
I also wanted to get practical experience with what does the bill look like, what kind of output can I expect, how does the cloudiness affect it. On a real personal and practical level. And how much would it take to run the house? People always ask, how much I do need? So I started with approximately one kilowatt system, and I've kind of learned from that, ok, here's what the house uses, here's what this produces.

Nadine Arroyo:
Local experts in Arizona have studied solar energy for more than 20 years. Nationally, experts have found that Arizona is the ideal location for such a program. With more than 300 days of constant sunlight, and little precipitation, the sun can provide us with enough light to generate at least eight hours of converted electricity on any given day.

Dr. Peter Johnston:
The whole point of solar energy is that we can get electricity from it when the sun is shining. We have on the surface of the earth maybe about 100 watts per square foot of power coming from the sun.

Nadine Arroyo:
In Tempe, Arizona Public Service oversees the solar test and research center. Better known as STAR. This is one of several Arizona facilities throughout the valley where tests are conducted and technology developed for converting solar energy into electricity.

Dr. Peter Johnston:
Every technology here is based on the direct conversion of sunlight to electricity. And we have a number of different technologies here today. We have the conventional flat plate panels, and we also have the high concentration technology where we actually harvest the sunlight with either plastic lenses or mirrors and concentrate the sun's energy on to very highly efficient electricity converters. The typical solar cell on a flat plate technology might come to about - might convert about 14\% of the sun's energy to electricity. Our high efficiency sells can convert maybe 22\%, and we actually have some state of the art cells that are normally associated with space travel now that can convert 35\% of the sun's energy to electricity.

Nadine Arroyo:
Utilizing the system is really not all that difficult to understand. It's attached to a high-voltage DC, a safety switch box. Then it goes through the solar panel box, which converts DC to AC, then through meters to track the amount of energy used, and finally it back feeds into the breaker box for electricity used.

Chuck Skidmore:
This is a remote display from the inverter. You notice it has an antenna here. It tells us how much power this thing is putting out. Right now it's putting out 398 watts, and it shows us that we are starting to get power about 6:30 in the morning. You can see it climb. And it will climb probably to 600, 700 watts today by noon, 1:00. And then we can also switch the switch and we can see how many kilowatt hours per day it's made for the last 31 days, and you can see very quickly where we had cloudy days.

Nadine Arroyo:
Because the technology is essentially a new system, the cost can and has scared potential new customers away. To install solar panels the cost can start as low as $7,000, and, yes, the capital must be put up front. But there are several ways of financing the system. One is including it in the initial home loan. Another is applying for assistance through one of the local energy companies, which includes receiving federal and local tax credits as well as purchase credit from the energy companies available through both SRP and APS. Also, panels are not a must to have solar energy in a home.

Barbara Lockwood:
If you're interested in purchasing solar energy, but you'd prefer not to have a system on your home, then we'll produce the solar energy for you and we'll sell it to you for a small premium. And you can sign up for however many blocks of electricity you would like. We sell it in 15 kilowatt hour blocks, and the premium is something that would be then added to your bill depending on how many blocks you sign up for.

Chuck Skidmore:
On this particular system with what I paid, it cost me about 11 cents a kilowatt hour. Now with the new tax incentives available, this system would cost me about 2.8 cents an hour.

Edward Fox:
Over the long term there's no silver bullet to the energy future of the community. And in that context, there's going to be solar, there's going to be wind, there's going to be all kinds of technology. Eventually, 20, 30 years from now, we'll start having what I would call a disruptive technology, which is high-capacity batteries which will change the way we think about energy completely. But until then, the rooftop solar units are already continue to make their way into the marketplace. The price will come down as technology gets better, there will continue to be government incentive and utility incentives to help customers.

Nadine Arroyo:
Experts add that as more people seek ways to reduce their energy bills and their dependence on fossil fuels, solar energy will eventually become a need, rather than a luxury in any home.

Mike Sauceda:
Imagine a future where flexible lights can be printed on an ink jet printer in any color and can be applied to just about anything, including clothing. That's the kind of future that's moving behind the imagination stage at Arizona State University's flexible display center. It's where doctor Hassan Jabbour is working on nano sized diodes, a thousand times smaller than a human hair printed on a flexible display.

Hassan Jabbour:
Eventually we would like not only flexible, we would like them to grade everything on textile. One of our mission assist to take those device that's we make now and integrate them not only on something that you might see in the future, like this display here, this is a mock-up, as you can see for what to come in the next few years, this would be your computer. Our vision is to take this also and integrate it on your hand and put other function a little on the textile like solar cells, so that it's called smart tech style, so you don't need any batteries or energy sources beside the sun, basically, to operate this whole thing.

Hassan Jabbour:
The organic LED's are very similar in principle, they're very similar to the light emitting diode you buy from Circuit City or any similar store. The operation is you have a substrate, it could be in our case plastic substrate that has a conductor on it, and that conductor has be transparent, because eventually the light has to come through. You bring the organic materials and you deposit the polymer on top of this conductor about 100 nanometer thickness, which is 1,000 times thinner than the human hair. On top of that, you bring out the conductor and deposit that conductor. You connect the magnesium to the negative side of the battery, and you connect the conductor on the substrate of the positive side of the battery. And you see light. That's how it works, very simple.

Mike Sauceda:
For now the flexible light displays are mostly in the developmental stage, though they are used in some cell phones. Currently non organic LED Lights are commercially available in many products, including flashlights.

Hassan Jabbour:
The LED's I can buy on the market in cars and traffic lights these days, those are usually going with a specific technique, most of them are going that way. You can go on a limited size.

Mike Sauceda:
Because the LED's developed are made using organic materials they can be thrown away and will decompose. The lights can be made using chemical vapor deposition where the polymers are vaporized and deposited into a substrate. He still uses the older method to produce flexible displays. Besides working and eveloping organic LED's, he is also working on a new way of printing them. Ink jet printers have been modified to allow printing of LED lights on plastic. The dream is to be able to use newspaper printers to manufacture the lights.

Hassan Jabbour:
You can use the drum to transfer this, now your ink is no longer black ink you see in the newspaper. Your ink is the polymer or the organic small molecular we use. You dissolve that in a,liquid solvent and that's your ink. And that's what we've printed with the ink jet. Instead of printing the three primary colors, we take our polymers, our red, green, and blue, and print them, just like you print on paper. We actually made diodes on paper. So in that sense it's a straightforward processing. However, there are challenges to solve.

Mike Sauceda:
Once the lights are made, they're checked on an electron microscope to be examined for defect. One defect can ruin an entire light. The doctor says that's one drawback to the printing of lights, but self-healing lights may be around that problem. He says a printing technique be also be used to print solar cells and electronic components for computers. And maybe one day televisions.

Hassan Jabbour:
Besides organic LED's, our group is known for the nano memory storage based on the same materials, the organic materials we use for light emission and solar cells, we also work on organics and film transistors, we hope it will be the replacement for many applications. It's not going to replace the Intel chip, the Pentium chip, not any time soon, but it will be useful for low-end applications, like toys, and displays that do not demand speed and high definition for now. There is a TV prototype that was shown by Epson where they printed the whole TV, 14-inch. But it's only for show, scientific shows and technical shows, but not to sell yet. There are problems with the lifetime, and also the amount of production, the yield of these processes is very low right now. So it's a yield issue.

Mike Sauceda:
Organic LED's will eventually lead to energy savings.

Hassan Jabbour:
If you count the circuit and the energy consumption not just within the lamp itself, but within the circuits that operate the lamp, eventually this technology is more efficient. Eventually. Right now it is not because it's still in the research phase. But eventually it is -- we did the calculations, it is more efficient than traditional technology, especially the incandescent bulb.

Mike Sauceda:
Right now we continue to rely on light to the past as light tons light our future.

Michael Grant:
Thank you for joining us for this special edition of "Horizon." I'm Michael Grant. Have a great one. Good night.

Announcer:
If you have comments about Horizon, please write to the addresses listed on the bottom of your screen.

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