Colorado Springs Utilities on March 20 said that it is finalizing negotiations and in the coming months will award a contract for 150 megawatts of new solar generation plus a 25-megawatt battery storage system by the end of 2023.
“Energy storage is an integral part of our ability to transition from fossil fuels to incorporating more renewables into our system,” said Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Aram Benyamin in a news release. The public power utility said that the at this time, the storage system would be the largest energy storage facility announced in Colorado. The battery will have the ability to run for up to four hours at maximum capacity.
Colorado Springs Utilities said that the battery project will provide the utility with valuable information about improving solar power integration and reducing the need for natural gas to maintain reliability. For this reason, the utility will negotiate an option to add more storage capacity to the battery system in the future.
“This project will familiarize us with utility-scale battery technology and give us the flexibility to seek better pricing as the technology improves and our load growth materializes,” Benyamin said.
“We are changing the way we power the Pikes Peak region and are on a path to reduce our carbon emissions by 40 percent or more from 2005 to 2035,” Benyamin said.
The reduction of carbon emissions will be realized by decommissioning one of the utility’s coal-fired power plants and the addition of more solar power. Beyond the 150-MW project, the utility is planning to add another 95-MW of solar power by the end of the year.
Benyamin detailed utility’s details renewables strategy, battery benefits
In an interview with the American Public Power Association in late 2018, Benyamin discussed the utility’s strategy related to renewable energy supplies and outlined how adding battery storage to its system is “going to give us a whole new view of what the world will look like 15, 20 years from now.”
He said that batteries are becoming a more attractive option to reliably bridge the gap between renewables and dispatchability, adding that battery technology is better today than it was five years ago.