Arizona Public Service Company (APS) announced it is issuing two requests for proposals next month as part of its campaign to bring more solar and wind energy into its portfolio.

The two new RFPs will add enough solar and wind resources to power more than half a million homes, about 2,500 megawatts, by 2021, company officials said. Earlier this year, the company also successfully closed two RFPS for large battery installations to store renewable energy to use after the sun goes down.

Projects to open up options for customers

Commercial and residential customers can expect more access to renewable energy options and renewable energy incentives from these new generation assets, said Jenna Rowell, director of external communications.

Both RFPs will allow commercial customers to partner with APS in support of their own sustainability and clean energy goals, she said.

The company plans to issue the two RFPs by Sept. 15:

• The first will seek competitive proposals for up to 150 megawatts of APS-owned solar resources to be in service by 2021. This solar generation will be designed with the flexibility to add energy storage as a future option.

• A second RFP will pursue up to 250 megawatts of wind resources to be in service as soon as possible, but no later than 2022. The company also may opt to purchase wind-generated power from other providers.

Large utilities transition to new energy era 

APS is among a growing number of large utilities across the U.S. that is transitioning to a new era of clean energy to meet public demand. Technology is also dropping in price, driving the momentum.

Commercial and residential customers are eager for more technology choices from electric vehicles to rooftop and commercial solar panels.

In response, APS is making massive investments in solar and wind resources. This year, it announced an initiative to add enough new renewable energy to power the equivalent of 3 million solar panels by 2025.

APS recently announced initiatives to produce nearly one gigawatt of new clean energy to provide customers with more renewable energy after the sun goes down. Last year, the company announced the largest battery storage project in the country to store renewable energy from the company’s planned and existing arsenal of solar plants.

Battery technology evolving 

Battery technology for large utilities is fairly new and has a way to go before it’s cost-effective and highly efficient. Current technology remains expensive and requires a large amount of space for infrastructure. There also are reliability and safety issues, said Professor Jeffrey Pyun, a researcher and international expert on energy storage technology at the University of Arizona.

As utilities invest more in energy storage structure, the biggest challenge is finding safe, more portable and dense energy systems for large utilities and facilities at lower cost, Pyun said.

Emission-free nuclear energy protects air quality 

As the state’s largest electric company, it’s constantly balancing its portfolio to get the best deals for its customers, said Brad Albert, vice president of resource management for APS, the largest and oldest utility in Arizona.

“Our key challenge here is that we don’t compromise reliability or affordability,” Albert said.

Currently, APS has a 50 percent carbon-free energy portfolio when nuclear is included in the mix, company officials said. Nuclear energy, which supplies 20 percent of the nation’s energy, is emission free.

The Palo Verde Generating Station west of Phoenix is the largest producer of carbon-free energy in the country. In Arizona, it serves more than 1.2 million retail and residential customers.   By 2030, the company expects 700,000 additional customers.


This story was originally published at Chamber Business News.