Powering Strong Communities

Colorado Springs Utilities signs PPA for 175-MW solar plus storage project

Colorado Springs Utilities has signed a 17-year power purchase agreement for all the output of a 175-megawatt (MW) solar power project coupled with a 25-MW, four-hour battery energy storage system being developed by juwi.

Boulder, Colo.- based juwi is a developer, engineering-procurement-construction contractor, and operator of utility-scale renewable energy projects and is wholly owned by German renewable energy company juwi AG.

The Pike Solar and Storage project is sited in El Paso County and is slated to begin construction in early 2022 and be completed in 2023. When built, it will be the largest solar facility and first contracted storage system on Colorado Springs Utilities’ system.

The energy stored in the battery will be discharged during peak periods when electricity prices are high or into the night when the solar facility is not generating electricity.

With the addition of Pike Solar to the utility’s other solar, wind and hydro resources, renewable energy will comprise an estimated 27% of Colorado Springs Utilities’ energy portfolio.

When completed, the 25-MW storage system will be one of the largest in the state. “The additional solar we will bring online will help diversify our energy mix and help us reach our Energy Vision goal of achieving 80% carbon reduction by 2030,” Aram Benyamin, the CEO of Colorado Springs Utilities, said.

On June 26, the public power utility’s board approved a Sustainable Energy Plan for Colorado Springs that aligns with the utility’s Energy Vision plan. The plan calls for the retirement of all the utility’s coal-fired generation by 2030, including the Martin Drake plant in downtown Colorado Springs no later than 2023.

To retire the Drake plant, Colorado Springs Utilities is placing temporary power generation units, primary fired by natural gas, at the power plant site to ensure system reliability. Once new transmission projects are completed, generation will no longer be needed in downtown Colorado Springs, and the gas plants will be relocated.

Colorado Springs Utilities has not yet decided where the temporary natural gas generators will be located after they are done being used at the Drake site. “We have several options on the table right now, but it is too early for us to say with certainty where exactly the units will go,” said Natalie Watts, Senior Public Affairs Specialist at the utility.

Pike is the second solar project Colorado Springs Utilities and juwi have worked on together. The first, Palmer Solar, is a 60-MW facility and is currently the largest solar project on Colorado Springs Utilities’ system.

When the Pike Solar project is completed, Colorado Springs Utilities’ solar portfolio, which in addition to Pike and Palmer includes the Grazing Yak solar plant, will be able to procure 270 MW of solar energy at an average rate of less than $28 per megawatt hour (MWh), spokesperson Natalie Watts said.