As a not-for-profit, community-based utility that serves more than one million energy customers in America’s fastest growing region, SRP announced it is seeking Board approval to expand its Coolidge Generating Station, a quick-start natural gas power plant located in the 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.

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. This is enough energy to power about 150,000 average homes when there is high electricity demand.

READ ALSO: SRP signs major solar deals to power Facebook data center in Mesa

“Expanding our Coolidge Generating Station is a critical step in creating a reliability backbone for SRP customers,” said SRP’s CEO and General Manager Mike Hummel. “The added, rapid-start capacity at Coolidge will keep the lights on during times of peak electricity demand in the Valley and help support the variable output from SRP’s growing portfolio of renewable resources.”

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. 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.

“A highly reliable power system is absolutely critical in Arizona,” said Hummel. “Many Phoenix-based organizations serve critical community needs and at-risk populations rely on air conditioning during extreme heat. SRP must always keep these factors in mind as we grow our resource portfolio and move towards our goals to decarbonize.”

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 at Coolidge would not impact SRP’s ability to meet its sustainability goals. SRP remains 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 (400 MW) of battery storage by 2023, which is among the highest battery storage capacity of any utility in the nation.

“SRP is proud of our early deployment of battery technology with one of the largest commitments in battery storage in the West,” said Hummel. “Expanding Coolidge Generating Station will provide a proven, quick-start generation resource while SRP obtains operational experience and evaluates the longer-term performance of battery storage technology. Our goal is to build and invest in more battery storage as it improves in reliability and cost.”

SRP continues to plan for major economic growth in Arizona and to meet increasing community energy needs with a diverse portfolio of reliable power generation resources. Rapidly available added capacity at SRP’s Coolidge Generating Station will help serve this near-term growth with safe and trusted operations and allow time for SRP to continue to research, test and add more renewable energy technology. The expansion also will allow SRP to help maintain affordable electric prices for customers while delivering on sustainability commitments to reduce carbon emissions.