Tucson Electric Power (TEP), an electric utility company that serves southern Arizona, has brought its newest and largest solar power system online.
The Wilmot Energy Center (WEC), located on 1,130 acres southeast of Tucson International Airport, includes a 100 MW solar array and 30 MW battery energy storage system – each the largest of their kind on TEP’s local energy grid. TEP will purchase power from the WEC under a long-term agreement with an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources, its owner and operator.
The batteries will be charged by 314,000 solar panels that can track the movement of the sun for increased production. On most days, TEP will charge the battery in the morning and early afternoon when solar resources are most productive, then deliver stored energy during peak usage periods.
“Storage makes solar power even more valuable by helping us provide clean energy when customers need it most,” says Susan Gray, president and CEO of TEP. “These systems more than double our large-scale renewable energy resources and represent a big step toward the greener grid we’re building for our customers. TEP is taking action on behalf of our community to protect our climate.”
Battery storage is critical to a clean energy future because it helps utilities provide reliable service with growing levels of wind and solar resources. Storage can help smooth out imbalances when clouds block the sun or wind patterns shift and can store clean energy for periods when customers need it most.
This month, TEP will also start delivering power from its new 250 MW Oso Grande Wind project in New Mexico. With the addition of the two systems, TEP has the ability to produce nearly 26% of its power from renewable resources. The systems are a big part of TEP’s plan to provide more than 70% of its power from renewable resources and reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2035.
With both the WEC and Oso Grande online, TEP will have 628 MW of large-scale wind and solar resources, with more arriving soon. TEP customers also have installed more than 29,000 rooftop solar systems with a combined capacity of about 300 MW.