El Paso Electric elects for 100MW of storage in 370MW capacity push

Electricity from 100MW of energy storage facilities will be purchased by US public utility company El Paso Electric, following a competitive solicitation process.

Headquartered in Texas and serving more than 400,000 customers in that state and in New Mexico, the utility determined that it required additional generation and energy management resources in place by the time the 2022 and 2023 summer peaks in electricity demand happen. The utility currently owns around 2,153MW of generation facilities.

El Paso Electric put out its 2017 “All Source Request for Proposals for Electric Power Supply and Load Management Resources” as a consequence, competitively tendering for both the construction of new projects including solar, storage and natural gas and for the purchase of power from third-party owned generation facilities.

Winning proposals remain subject to their obtaining required environmental and construction permits as well as gaining approval from the respective Public Utility Commission of Texas and New Mexico’s Public Regulation Commission. El Paso Electric said the projects chosen and the mix of diverse choices is in line with the need to deploy “cost-effective, diverse and competitive-based energy resources for its customers” in expanding its portfolio, as well as advancing a strategic goal to “remain at the forefront in advancing renewable energy”.

The utility selected:

200MW of utility-scale solar

100MW of energy storage

226MW new natural gas combustion turbine unit at existing power station

50MW to 150MW of wind and solar power purchases

The 2022-2023 peak period is defined as between 1 May 2022 and 1 May 2023, while the RFP called for 50MW of new generation capacity by 2022 and 320MW of generation capacity by 2023. Bids were received by October this year and resources types eligible to participate were ‘conventional intermediate generation with cycling capability, ‘renewable energy – preferable dispatchable or easily curtailed from outputting to the grid’, and ‘load management’, in addition to ‘energy storage’. The document did not differentiate between types of energy storage, whether batteries or otherwise. The planned gas power plant has an anticipated cost of US$143 million and is expected to be operational by the latter date.

In mid-December, El Paso Electric also issued an RFP for a feasibility study for a utility-scale solar-plus-storage project to supply New Mexico State University facilities as well as providing an educational and research facility for students from the real-world application of distributed energy technology. The RFP calls for a solar project of up to 3MW.   

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