Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Energy Systems Management


College of Arts and Sciences


Energy Systems Management

First Advisor

Dr. James Williams

Second Advisor

Dr. Jalel Sager

Third Advisor

Fred Wellington


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States electric power industry is responsible for 25% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, many utilities face state mandates which force electric utilities to reduce their emissions by decreasing reliance on fossil fuels. An Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) is the primary method by which electric utilities plan all aspects of future electricity supply and demand, presenting how the company will deliver reliable and affordable energy while meeting statutory requirements. We propose three IRP scenarios through 2050 for Tucson Electric Power (TEP), an electric utility in southern Arizona. The first scenario is the base case, which achieves the state’s 15% RPS but relies on natural gas thermal generation for system operability. In 2050, the base case is the lowest cost at $2.05B but emits the highest amount of CO2 – 4.07 MMT. The second scenario deploys a high percentage of renewable generation paired with battery storage. This scenario costs $2.34B while offering the lowest CO2 emissions – 0.96 MMT. Finally, the third scenario utilizes fuel cell technology as the primary dispatchable source for reliability. The $2.90B scenario is the most expensive but also offers lowered emissions - 1.01 MMT. This IRP analysis investigated whether fuel cells are a viable solution to deliver cost-effective, reduced-emissions electricity. We conclude that, due to costs, a large-scale deployment of fuel cell systems is impractical and not recommended. Instead, we advise a smaller strategic deployment to leverage the technology’s advantages while avoiding excessive capital expenditure.