APS customers to receive solar after sunset


Customers of Arizona Public Service (APS) will soon power their homes and businesses with solar after sunset thanks to three major clean-energy initiatives.

APS will add battery storage to its existing fleet of solar power plants, build new solar plants with storage, and use storage to deliver cleaner energy to customers at times of peak energy usage.

As a result, APS customers will be able to use solar energy even after the sun goes down. Family dinners, prime-time television and bedtime reading lights will all be powered by a cleaner energy mix.

“Arizona is already a national leader in solar energy. The challenge is, no one has figured out how to stop the sun from setting at night,” said APS chairman and CEO Don Brandt. “As storage technology improves and declines in cost, we will increasingly be able to store the power of the sun cost-effectively to deliver when our customers need it.”

“Large-scale battery storage is a critical step on the path to reliable and affordable clean-energy solutions,” said Pat Graham, state director, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona. “Clean energy and clean air are important to the health of our communities and the lands and water upon which all life depends.”

APS already provides customers with an energy mix that is 50% clean and getting cleaner. These initiatives will add 850MW of battery storage and at least 100MW of new solar generation by 2025, for a total of 950MW of new clean-energy technology.

This represents a major down payment on Arizona’s continued progress toward an energy future that is clean, reliable and affordable.

“The Energy Storage Association congratulates APS for cementing its leadership among utilities by integrating energy storage into its system operations and realising savings for consumers,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of ESA.

“We especially applaud APS for partnering with third parties in this effort, sending a strong signal for businesses to invest in energy storage in Arizona. We look forward to that day when energy storage is the central tool for maintaining a reliable and resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable grid.”

Adding storage to existing solar plants

APS owns and operates large-scale solar plants throughout the state that will be upgraded with 200MW of battery storage systems. A team led by Invenergy will install six of the new battery systems at solar plants in Maricopa County and Yuma to be in place by 2020. The remaining two upgrades will be completed by 2021.

Building new solar storage plants

APS plans to build an additional 500MW of solar storage and stand-alone battery storage by 2025. The first project will be a 100MW solar-storage plant. APS expects to issue a request for proposals this summer.

APS is already partnering with Tempe-based First Solar to build a first-of-its-kind solar-plus-storage project that will be one of the largest in the country when completed in 2021.

Delivering more clean energy when needed

When solar production declines late in the afternoon and energy usage is still high, electricity companies need a reliable, flexible source of power to serve their customers.

Traditionally, that source has been exclusively natural gas. This announcement signals a new direction: APS will use 150MW of solar-fueled battery storage to meet part of the demand when energy usage peaks.

The battery storage will come from two projects: a 100MW battery provided by AES, and a 50MW battery by Invenergy.

This is part of a long-term clean-energy transition in which renewable and storage technologies will play an increasingly important role.