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Managing Solar After Sunset

February 21, 2019

Albert discusses APS’s new solar + storage projects

APS customers will soon power their homes and businesses with solar after sunset thanks to three major clean energy initiatives.

The initiatives announced Feb. 21 will add 850 megawatts of battery storage and at least 100 megawatts of new solar generation by 2025, for a total of 950 megawatts of new clean energy technology. These projects amount to one of the largest battery storage initiatives in the United States and continue APS’s leadership in solar energy and battery energy storage to serve customers.

Brad Albert, APS vice president of resource management, oversees the company’s long-term resource planning and acquisition activities for both conventional and renewable resources, among his responsibilities. He answered some questions from azenergyfuture.com about the announced projects and how energy storage will enhance the value of solar energy for APS customers.

Q: What makes large-scale battery projects like these more attractive as a resource to serve customers?

A: We’ve been watching battery storage technology develop the last couple of years, and there are a couple key elements that make today different from proposals that we’ve seen in the past. First, the price of battery technology has continued to drop. The second thing is we’ve seen the initial grid-scale deployments in some of the other states, particularly California, and those have been successful. The third thing is that we have increasing amounts of solar energy on our system as rooftop solar systems continue to expand, and we’ve also added more solar to the system on our own. All of those ingredients together make battery storage a viable technology for us to begin to deploy on a large scale.

Q: How will these projects enable APS to deliver more solar energy to customers, particularly during peak usage times?

A: We are sizing the battery storage systems to be able to cover that key peak usage period from the late afternoon into the early evening, when we’re all getting home from work, cooking dinner, turning on the TV and turning on our air conditioners. The batteries allow us to take solar energy that’s produced in the middle of the day and deploy it in those evening hours when our customers need it the most. These projects are really the key, in my mind, to unlocking the potential of fully utilizing additional solar energy for our customers and Arizona. That’s what these projects are all about for us, continuing to harness the ability of solar energy to serve our customers.

Q: What have we learned from our existing battery storage projects that will help us in most efficiently managing these large-scale systems?

A: One of the really unique things about batteries is that they can serve so many different purposes on our system. Some of our initial deployments that you’ve seen over the last couple of years, like Punkin Center and Festival Ranch, have been very successful, but they were really about studying the benefits from a distribution system perspective. These new batteries have a little bit different purpose in mind, meaning that they’ll be used to optimize our overall resource portfolio and support bulk power production of electricity. I think there are going to be even more learnings for us as we deploy these large-scale batteries and begin to use them.

Q: APS participates in wholesale markets and the Energy Imbalance Market, which helps the company buy and sell power, including finding the lowest-cost energy to serve customers. How will these battery projects impact our involvement in these markets?

A: We are putting in these batteries to serve our customers economically and reliably, and anything they add to our participation in wholesale markets is really icing on the cake. They are just the type of highly flexible resource that can provide a lot of value in the wholesale energy markets and places like the Energy Imbalance Market because they can respond to price signals very quickly. We think that flexibility will enhance the value of this storage technology, and of course all of that value we create in the markets flows right back as savings to help us reduce our customers’ bills.

Q: What do you hope customers will take away from this announcement?

A: Hopefully this confirms with our customers and stakeholders that we are serious about continuing to find ways to create a clean energy future – and do it in a responsible way. For us, it’s all about balancing reliability, affordability and continuing to advance clean energy for our customers and for Arizona.

vlean_energy

VP of Resource Management Brad Albert says the announced battery storage projects are key to unlocking solar’s full potential to serve APS customers with more clean energy.

Categories: Innovative
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