SRP Begins Work with St. Johns and Greater Apache County on Economic Transition Plan
Transitioning coal communities to a new economic way of life is a vital initiative for Arizona and the entire U.S. Over the past year and a half, SRP announced its coal-fired Coronado Generating Station (CGS) will close no later than 2032 and that the plant will experience a 40% reduction in workforce by 2025.
SRP is supporting all CGS employees interested in staying with the utility by providing training and career exploration opportunities as well as relocation benefits. In addition to this support and just as vital, SRP is committed to helping the entire CGS community throughout its transition from CGS as a main economic base. This work includes partnering with stakeholders at the city of St. Johns, Apache County, and all nearby impacted communities reliant on CGS, to provide the information and resources they need to make decisions on the path forward for their communities.
“SRP developed an economic transition team currently working with CGS community stakeholders to develop and implement a community engagement plan,” said Kelly Barr, Chief Strategy, Corporate Services and Sustainability Executive at SRP. “Our collective mission is to realign existing state programs and empower the community with transition resource assistance so they can develop and lead an informed strategy that infuses new job opportunities and tax revenue.”
The SRP Coal Communities Transition Team combines executives and leaders throughout departments across SRP dedicated to help ensure a smooth economic transition for the CGS community. One of the team’s overarching goals is to create a model that other transitioning coal communities across the state and nation can reference and build upon. The team will inform stakeholders and federal-level policymakers of the communities’ needs to ensure they have a voice and get support.
“Federal-level interest in helping communities impacted by coal-plant closures continues to grow and we believe there are many opportunities ahead,” said Barr. “We will work with our counterparts in these communities to explore what is possible as they push forward. SRP will also inform community members and all engaged stakeholders of progress being made throughout the transition plan process and secure partnerships as appropriate.”
SRP’s Coal Communities Transition Team has begun work on a community engagement plan in coordination with the CGS community which consists of four stages, including conducting preliminary assessments of the community; developing economic and workforce plans; executing on the plans; and determining post-plant support.
“Our partnership with SRP in the coming years will be more important than ever as our community transitions away from coal,” said Spence Udall, Mayor of St. Johns. “We look forward to completing the engagement plan and realize the decisions we make in the future will be critical for the community of St. Johns and Apache County. The adjustments we make now must benefit our families and this area for generations to come.”
SRP has experience supporting communities through the economic impacts associated with coal-plant closures, most recently with of the closure of the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), near the small city of Page, Ariz. on the Navajo Reservation. The NGS community transition involved Page evolving from an energy and tourism-based economy to one that is now completely tourism-based. SRP also committed to helping all interested NGS employees transition to new positions within other SRP facilities.
“Supporting the NGS community revealed insights on how to minimize stress and disruption felt by workers, families and communities,” said Gretchen Kitchel, Executive Public Affairs Strategist at SRP. “Listening to community members and understanding the unique needs of the CGS and St. Johns community is a vital first step in developing a meaningful strategy.”
SRP will work with stakeholders at all levels to help identify the valued assets in the larger St. Johns community and define how best to uphold these mainstays while properly addressing the community’s evolving needs. In the years leading up to the full operational shutdown of CGS in 2032, as well as in the years following, SRP will continue engaging with St. Johns and Apache County stakeholders to help ensure the communities are leading a successful economic transition.