TEP outlines renewable energy plan

One of the hot button issues Arizonans have been discussing is Proposition 127, which is on the November 6 ballot. If passed, the proposition would require state-regulated electric utilities to generate 50 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030. But Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is already touting a plan to do this very thing on its own.

TEP pushes through enough wind and solar energy resources to power more than 115,000 homes in the area. Now, the company has outlined an aggressive, but tenable plan to have three times that much power by the 2030 date, which is enough to power almost every home in the Tucson area.

30 by 30 Plan

TEP is situating itself to be able to provide service to customers by delivering 30 percent renewable power by 2030, which is nearly twice the level the state as a whole is requiring by 2025. The plan will be adding massive wind and solar systems to generate more power for the surrounding area; three are set to go up in the next few years and will be energy efficient.

Also, one thing the company has on its side is the development of technologies related to these large renewable energy machines that support cleaner air and reduce water usage. New developments around battery storage systems will help to keep systems running at a better clip as they add more wind and solar resources to the electric grid.

“We’re working to build a cleaner, more flexible resource portfolio for our customers,” says Joseph Barrios, Supervisor of Media Relations and Regulatory Communications at TEP. “For the last few years, TEP has voluntarily pursued an ambitious plan to significantly expand our use of wind and solar power while investing in promising new technologies and reducing our reliance on coal-fired resources.”

TEP is on track to more than double its wind and solar capacity over the next few years with its three new systems listed above. Expected to be complete by 2021, the new systems include a 100 megawatt (MW) solar array, a 100 MW wind system and a 150 MW wind system.

Another part of the 30 by 30 plan includes a stress for more opportunities to add hundreds of megawatts of renewable resources to about 1,200 MW.

“I think it’s clear that our customers do want more wind and solar energy for our community. We want that, too,” adds Barrios. “As our community grows, TEP will deliver service to tens of thousands more customers using cleaner generating resources with lower emissions and water usage.”

TEP currently generates some its power via coal-fired resources, but is on track to cut out a third of that by 2023. To replace what the company produces from that energy resource, TEP plans to install internal combustion engine generators to produce better air quality. The generators will be set up at its H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station in Tucson, a 344-acre campus.

These engines are cost-effective alternatives that help compensate for power fluctuations that usually occur during the expansion of renewable energy resources.

“We expect the cost of utility-scale battery storage systems to continue falling. It’s clear that the technology is flexible and provides a variety of benefits for customers,” notes Barrios.

Nick Esquer

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