The Salt River Project, the third-largest public power utility in the country, signed an agreement Wednesday with Iberdrola Renewables to buy 20 megawatts of power generated from an Arizona photovoltaic solar panel farm expected to go online in June.
“We’ve been really ramping up our renewables,” said John Coggins, SRP’s manager of resource planning and development.
SRP has signed several contracts recently to buy power from renewable sources. The company has a portfolio requirement to get 15 percent of its power from sustainable sources by 2025, Coggins said. The company's portfolio combines both energy efficient programs and renewable energy sources. But it will be well ahead of that requirement at its current rate of investment in renewable energy sources.
Coggins said SRP is on target to add 450 megawatts of renewable energy to its portfolio within the next 10 years. That would be enough energy to power almost 70,000 homes and would represent 11 percent of SRP’s renewable portfolio. Along with an additional 6 percent coming from energy efficiency programs, SRP will surpass its 15 percent goal by 2 percentage points.
“We’re looking at all types of renewables,” Coggins said, “not just solar.”
Solar is one of the more expensive sources, but one of the most realistic ones in Arizona, where there’s a lot of sun and not a lot of water.
“Solar does not use water,” Coggins said. “That’s definitely an advantage. And PV arrays can be built near receiving stations, so you don’t have the transmission costs.”
The new project with Iberdrola Renewables will be located near the Abel receiving station on land SRP bought in Pinal County, Ariz.
It’s the third big renewable-energy project the utility company has contracted to do with Oregon-based Iberdrola. The other two were a major wind farm and another solar station.
SRP has involved the Arizona community in its discussion about renewable energy and has developed a comprehensive renewable energy plan from those discussions.
The company has three primary focuses. First it has created an energy efficiency program to help clients reduce their power usage and thus lower their utility bills. The second piece is bringing renewable energy power generation online. The final piece is developing natural gas resources to back-up intermittent power supplies from solar and wind sources, Coggin said.
SRP has renewable energy projects in the pipeline right now that will generate 100 megawatts of electricity, Coggins said.
Pictured: SRP's community solar project soaks up the sun in Arizona. Image courtesy of globalgateway.com.