El Paso Electric Plans Solar, Storage To Meet Growing Power Demand

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El Paso Electric (EPE) has identified generation resource additions needed by the 2022-2023 summer peak season. The generation mix includes utility-scale solar, battery storage and natural gas.

EPE is a regional electric utility providing generation, transmission and distribution service to approximately 424,000 retail and wholesale customers in a 10,000-square-mile area of the Rio Grande valley in west Texas and southern New Mexico.

Through initial resource planning studies, EPE determined that it requires additional generating capacity of approximately 50 MW by 2022 and 320 MW by 2023 for a total of 370 MW.

After evaluating a recent request for proposals, EPE has chosen an energy purchase of 200 MW of utility-scale solar resources and 100 MW of battery storage, as well as the construction of a 226 MW natural gas combustion turbine generating unit at the company’s Newman Power Station in northeast El Paso. The anticipated operational date for the gas turbine is 2023 at an expected cost of $143 million.

In addition, EPE expects to pursue the purchase of 50 to 150 MW of wind- and solar-generated power to provide fuel diversity and energy cost-savings.

The selected proposals are subject to executing contracts with the winning bidders, obtaining applicable environmental and construction related permits, and obtaining necessary approvals by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.

“These technologies provide a mix of carbon-free renewable and clean-burning natural gas generation that will enable us to meet the growing need for power in our region in a safe, clean, reliable and cost-effective manner,” says Mary Kipp, president and CEO of EPE. “This balanced combination of resources will work with our existing energy portfolio as we move to retire aging, less efficient plants while continuing to meet our customers’ changing energy needs.”

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Robert Hall

Why is the size of the storage facility described in units of power (MW)? A storage facility stores energy (MWh), not power. Power is the rate at which energy is transferred from one place, or form, to another.