Following its recent announcement to expand utility-scale solar resources to 2,025 megawatts (MW) by 2025, Salt River Project (SRP) today announced three new solar energy plants that will deliver a total of 500MW of renewable energy. Facebook announced it will be SRP’s largest off taker of these new clean energy resources, utilizing 450MW of the combined solar capacity to support Facebook’s newly announced data center in Mesa, Arizona, and help meet the company’s 100 percent renewable energy commitments.
The three projects include two 200-MW solar plants and one 100-MW solar plant. SRP is contracting with subsidiaries of solar developers AES, EDP and NextEra Energy Resources to construct and operate the three new plants. The first project is expected to come online in fall 2022 and start of construction for all the new solar plants, which will all be located in Pinal County, will begin at different points in time throughout 2022.
“We are excited to build our newest data center in Mesa and proud to partner with SRP to bring 450MW of new solar energy to the grid. Access to renewable energy and a strong grid were an important part of our decision to build in Mesa,” said Urvi Parekh, Facebook’s head of renewable energy. “Facebook is committed to having a positive impact on local communities and we’re excited to help bring this additional investment and jobs to the area.”
“Doubling our solar resources to over 2000MW and having one of the largest storage commitments in the West is among the strategic ways SRP is enhancing access to sustainable solutions for customers,” said SRP’s CEO and General Manager Mike Hummel. “Facebook’s approach aligns well with SRP’s carbon reduction commitments and working together on this project helped accelerate SRP’s plans to add more solar generation to our energy mix. We’re proud to soon bring additional new, utility-scale clean energy online.”
The Facebook data center in Mesa will receive water credits for its operations from an agreement with Gila River Water Storage, LLC. (GRWS), SRP’s joint venture with the Gila River Indian Community which provides renewable water in the form of Long Term Storage Credits (LTSCs) to entities seeking additional supplies. The data center will procure these LTSCs from GRWS water storage, which means that it will not use any water rights from Mesa’s municipal supply for operations.
Adding 500MW of renewable solar energy to SRP’s power grid to support the energy needs of Facebook’s data center in Mesa, as well as SRP small business customers, will save hundreds of millions of gallons of water per year than if the same amount of energy were generated by fossil fuel-burning resources.
Below is further detail on the new solar energy plants:
West Line Solar, Solar Developer: AES (100 MW)
The first of the new solar plants scheduled to be commercially operational is “West Line Solar.” The 100MW plant will come online in October 2022 and SRP is partnering with The AES Corporation (NYSE: AES), a Fortune 500 global energy company, to develop this solar resource which will be located in the city of Eloy, part of Pinal County, Ariz. West Line Solar will be 650 acres in size and construction is set to begin in spring of 2022. Facebook will receive 50MW of solar energy from this solar plant, leaving 50MW of available renewable energy that SRP will offer to residential and small business customers as part of its new solar offerings available later this year. SRP and AES have worked together to bring online a 100MW solar system, East Line Solar, as well as a 10MW, 40 megawatt-hours (MWh) standalone battery-based energy storage system that helps inject power into the grid during times of high customer demand.
“We are excited to continue our long-standing partnership with SRP and collectively deliver on our clean energy commitments in Arizona, providing solutions that enable economic development and advance sustainability commitments for leading companies like Facebook,” said Leo Moreno, President of AES Clean Energy. “While supplying clean energy to Facebook’s data center in Mesa and meeting the clean energy needs of SRP’s residential and small business customers, the West Line Solar project will also provide substantive economic benefits including $13 million in tax revenue and up to 250 construction jobs.”
Randolph Solar Park, Solar Developer: EDP Renewables North America (200 MW)
The next new solar plant to become commercially operational will be “Randolph Solar Park,” which is slated to come online in 2023. SRP is partnering with EDP Renewables, a global leader in renewable energy production, to develop and operate this 200MW solar park located in the city of Coolidge, Ariz., part of Pinal County, adjacent to SRP’s Randolph 230kV substation. Randolph Solar will span across 1,346 acres, and construction is anticipated to begin in fall of 2022. Facebook will receive the full 200MW of energy from this solar plant.
“EDP Renewables appreciates our partnership with SRP, which will enable the construction of the Randolph Solar Park and bring a myriad of economic benefits to Pinal County and the state of Arizona,” said Miguel Prado, EDP Renewables North America CEO. “Randolph will be EDP Renewables’ largest solar project in Arizona, and we look forward to continuing to expand our portfolio in the state.”
Valley Farms Solar, Solar Developer: NextEra (200 MW)
The third project, “Valley Farms Solar” is expected to become commercially operational by December 2023. SRP has contracted with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun, to develop this 200MW solar plant located in Coolidge, Ariz. The two companies have previously worked together to develop and contract a 20MW solar generation facility and battery storage system, Pinal Central Solar Energy Center, and a 100MW solar plant, Saint Solar, which began operations in 2018 and 2020 respectively. Additionally, SRP and NextEra have plans to develop two solar-charged battery projects totaling nearly 350MW, Sonoran Energy Center and Storey Energy Center. Valley Farms Solar will be 1,900 acres in size and construction will begin in winter of 2022. Facebook will receive the full 200 MW of solar energy from this solar plant.
“We are very pleased to once again work with SRP and to provide Facebook with clean, renewable energy to support its sustainable operations,” said Matt Handel, senior vice president of development for NextEra Energy Resources. “The Valley Farms project will create good jobs and millions in new tax revenue for the local community.”
Receiving solar energy through clean energy resources helps SRP customers achieve their sustainability goals, reduce carbon emissions and invest in a clean, renewable energy future.