Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station

Kyra Carusa
January 29, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2017

Largest Nuclear Power Plant in the U.S.

Fig. 1: Picture of Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Located in Tonopah, Arizona, the Palo Verde nuclear power plant, pictured in Fig. 1, is 55 miles west of Phoenix. [1] The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States based off of net generation. The power plant serves about four million people and its three units are able to generate over 4,000 megawatts of electricity. [1] The Arizona Public Service Company (APS) Operates and owns 29.1% of the plant. [1] Its other major owners include the Salt River Project, the El Paso Electric Company, Southern California Edison, PNM Resources, the Southern California Public Power Authority, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The station is the only large nuclear power plant in the world that is not located near a large body of water. The power plant evaporates the water from the treated sewage from several nearby cities and towns to provide the cooling component to the plant. [2]

Location Controversy

When it came to the location of the plant, Palo Verde was controversial. The site was not the first choice because it was in the middle of the desert, having little or no water supply, and prevailing westerly winds. Because of these factors, the Phoenix-Scottsdale downtown areas were put in jeopardy if a major accident were to occur. The site was said to be selected because of major financial deals made with a local company owner. Financials aside, problems with the plant were mitigated before the development of the structure in Arizona. As stated above, cooling systems were made despite the plant not being near the water. Despite the controversies, the facility was made and as of 1992 the three units are the largest power producers of any kind in the United States. [1]

Overall Impact

In all, the Palo Verde plant has created an annual economic impact of $1.8 billion on the Arizona economy as of 2009. [1] The plant itself directly employs 2,386-2,900 people, including long-term contractors and corporate staff, in Maricopa County. [1,3] On the cost front, the plant purchased an estimated $223.8 million in various equipment, supplies and services as of 2009. This figure allows for the generating station to represent 31% of total vendor purchases in that year. Overall, the annual economic impact of Palo Verde on the state as of 2009 is estimated to be $399.4 million. [1] On top of the economic revenue the plant makes ($1.8 billion) are the property tax revenues. Annual property tax revenues are estimated at $48 million - $52 million per year. [1] Arizona Public Service Company is the largest taxpayer in the county.

Palo Verde is a significant facility as well as a contributor to the regions economy. It provides a clean, reliable source of power for the Maricopa County. While providing high quality jobs to thousands and supporting local economy with millions of dollars worth of vendor purchases, the Palo Verde Generating Station is a crucial facility to have running in Arizona.

© Kyra Carusa. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] "Economic Impacts of Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station on Arizona," Applied Economics, 2010.

[2] C. Chandler II, "Palo Verde Generating Station," Physics 241, University of Stanford, Winter 2016.

[3] "Economic Benefits of Palo Verde Nuclear Generation Station," Nuclear Energy Institute, November 2004.