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Childs-Irving Power Plant, Arizona

The Childs-Irving Power Plant was the first hydroelectric power station to be constructed in Arizona. In fact, construction of the plant at the Childs location began in 1908, several years before Arizona even achieved statehood. Construction of a second but connected plant in Irving, Arizona was completed in 1916. For nearly 100 years, the Childs-Irving Power Plant generated 2.8 megawatts of electricity for central Arizona.

Originally constructed by the Arizona Power Company, the plant now belongs to APS. In 1999, APS announced its plans to decommission the site. This decision was largely based on public pressure from groups who argued that the plant no longer contributed significant or necessary amounts of electricity to the area. Once the plant is decommissioned, Fossil Creek will no longer be diverted and will be allowed to return to its natural state.

Hydroelectric Power

Hydroelectric plants such as the Childs-Irving Power Plant use the kinetic energy of moving water to generate power. They are often formed by rerouting and damming natural water sources such as rivers or waterfalls. Environmentalists have long embraced hydroelectricity as a relatively clean source of power, as it does not create byproducts such as greenhouse gasses, mercury, or radioactive waste.

This does not mean that a hydroelectric power plant is necessarily environmentally safe, however. For example, many water reservoirs are created by flooding areas with rerouted water. Some researchers believe that this flooding can cause vegetation to rot and release as many greenhouse gasses as some other types of power plants release.

In addition, the materials used to construct or maintain any kind of power plant many be dangerous in and of themselves. If a plant is constructed with toxins such as asbestos, it can be dangerous to those who work in it or live nearby, even if it is considered a “clean” source of energy.

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