Salt River Project To Expand Gas-Fired Plant to Integrate More Renewables, Boost Reliability

Arizona public power utility Salt River Project (SRP) is seeking board approval to expand its Coolidge Generating Station, a quick-start natural gas power plant located in Arizona's Southeast Valley.

The expansion will help SRP integrate more renewable energy resources into the power grid and allow SRP to provide reliable power to its rapidly growing customer base during times of peak electricity demand, including some of the hottest days in Arizona’s summer season, it noted in an Aug. 24 news release.

The Phoenix metropolitan area is experiencing population growth more than three times the national average and SRP is projecting significantly increased, near-term residential and commercial energy needs. This demand is rising especially as large industrial customers develop new and existing local operations.

If approved by the SRP Board, the expansion of the Coolidge Generating Station would add 820 megawatts (MW) of capacity produced by 16 natural gas turbines capable of ramping up to full production within 10 minutes.

“With the West facing power capacity constraints and lacking available power generation during peak energy usage periods, the proposed expansion of Coolidge Generating Station will help SRP reliably and safely serve energy at times of highest demand,” SRP said.

SRP's Coolidge Power Plant (Photo courtesy of SRP)

It will also steadily facilitate the addition of more renewable energy resources like solar and wind which can produce intermittent and varying power output. Added natural gas turbines will provide SRP customers quick-start, dependable energy that is available when renewable resources have fluctuations in output or are not producing power, and when battery systems are charging.

Because the proposed new gas turbines at Coolidge Generating Station can start quickly and will run in times of peak demand or when there is reduced renewable output, the added natural gas generation would not impact SRP’s ability to meet its sustainability goals, the utility noted.

SRP has committed to reducing carbon intensity by more than 65 percent in 2035 and by 90 percent in 2050 from 2005 levels. SRP’s sustainability commitments also include an increased pledge to add 2,025 MW of utility-scale solar energy by 2025. In addition, SRP plans to add 1,600 megawatt-hours of battery storage by 2023.