El Paso Electric Ready to Go Heavy in Solar+Storage


Texas-based utility El Paso Electric (EPE) is implementing a long-term energy-supply resource plan that includes the expansion of solar energy and introduction of utility-scale battery storage.

In 2017, in response to continued customer and load growth, as well as a need to replace power from aging generation units, EPE determined that additional capacity of approximately 50 MW by 2022 and 320 MW by 2023 was needed to continue to meet the needs of its customers. After a review of proposals received in response to an RFP, three long-term PPAs and a new gas-fired generation unit were chosen.

The PPAs provide for the purchase of energy and capacity from a 100 MW solar facility to be constructed in Santa Teresa, N.M., a 100 MW solar facility combined with 50 MW of battery storage to be constructed in Otero County, N.M., and a 50 MW stand-alone battery storage facility to be constructed in Canutillo, Texas.

The two 50 MW battery storage projects will be EPE’s first utility-scale battery storage resources.

“Over the last year we have continued seeing growth in our region and have added approximately 7,000 customers. Additionally, because of falling renewable energy prices, and changing customer expectations on how they receive their energy, we are able to offer more sustainable solutions,” says EPE interim CEO Adrian J. Rodriguez.

“Our ability to grow our renewable energy portfolio with additional solar is maximized with the addition of battery storage capability. By being able to introduce large-scale battery storage into our region, we will, for the first time ever, be able to harness the power of the sun from our solar facilities and utilize that energy at night and during cloudy days,” he adds.

Hecate Energy will take the lead on the first project, in Santa Teresa. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources will develop, own and operate the second project, in Otero County. Ørsted Onshore (formerly Lincoln Clean Energy) will serve as the project developer of the battery storage facility in Canutillo.

Pending regulatory approval, the two solar facilities coupled with 50 MW of battery storage are anticipated to be in service by May 2022. The 50 MW stand-alone battery storage facility is expected to be in service prior to summer 2023.

The addition of these energy resources will nearly triple EPE’s renewable energy portfolio.

Photo: EPE interim CEO Adrian J. Rodriguez

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