Recent announcements from Arizona and Oregon underscore continued progress in reducing renewable energy and storage costs. When combined, these technologies help stretch out the availability of power from wind and solar generation.
Arizona Public Service (APS), the state’s largest investor-owned utility, today announced one of the nation’s largest acquisitions of battery storage power. Through 2025, the utility will add 850 megawatts (MW) of storage, enough to power up more than 275,000 Phoenix homes on a summer day. APS points out that this represents “more than the entire U.S. electricity industry installed in 2018.” APS will also install at least an additional 100 MW of solar generation. As its current natural gas generation contracts expire, the company is limiting new contracts to seven years “instead of a traditional twenty-year contract": "[t]his is part of a long-term clean-energy transition in which renewable and storage technologies will play an increasingly important role.” On behalf of the 2.7 million Arizonans it serves, APS is sending a clear signal about the increasingly positive economics of storage which, when combined with renewable energy additions, will further accelerate America’s clean energy transition.
On February 13, Portland General Electric (PGE) released plans to build the Wheatridge Energy Facility, the nation’s first combined wind, solar, and electricity storage system, on a site in eastern Oregon. Said Maria Pope, PGE President and CEO: “Wheatridge will be a model for integrating renewable generation and storage to cost-effectively reduce emissions while maintaining a reliable grid.” Of the facility’s 380 megawatts of generating capacity, the shares of wind, solar, and storage will total 300 MW, 50 MW and 30 MW, respectively (bringing PGE’s total wind generation contribution to more than 1,000 MW). According to the company, “with the addition of these new renewable resources, PGE expects to meet about 50 percent of its customers’ power needs with emissions-free generation.” That’s very good news for PGE’s 885,000 customers in 51 Oregon cities.
The people of Arizona and Oregon may vote differently on occasion, but two of their biggest electric utilities are both making historic new commitments to clean resources and advanced technologies after a careful assessment of all available alternatives. They can expect plenty of company across the West and beyond.