Sustainability news

Conservation and stewardship are at the core of Salt River Project’s culture. We demonstrate our commitment to these values through the choices we make in operating our facilities.

Whether we are working with community partners or researching emerging technologies, there is always a new project happening. Learn more about these efforts below.

 

New stand-alone energy storage system in the works

Image of large white industrial sized batteries on a concrete pad outside.

A stand-alone battery storage system can be charged with low cost or renewable energy sources and the energy then used during peak demand times.

Utility scale energy storage systems are poised to be a vital part of modernizing the grid and SRP recently signed a contract to begin construction on a new 10-megawatt, 40 megawatt-hour stand-alone battery storage system. This is the third battery storage project that launched in May as part of an initiative to learn how to incorporate utility scale energy storage systems into the electricity grid. This latest project, to be built in Chandler, will be charged by an SRP distribution station and construction began in May, 2018.

Incorporating battery storage into the grid will provide other energy options to meet peak demand needs, which occur late in the day. The battery systems can be charged with low-cost or renewable energy. The variable nature of renewable energy production results in energy being produced at times when demand is low. Now, that same energy can be used to charge a battery storage system potentially increasing the use of "clean" energy when demand is highest.

Battery storage projects

“Energy storage is already providing a wealth of services to central Arizona’s grid through other deployments, from supporting the growth of renewables to boosting reliability on transmission and distribution grids,” said Mike Hummel, SRP’s General Manager and Chief Executive Officer. “This latest investment will add much-needed efficiency and value for our more than 1 million electric consumers.”

SRP contracted with the AES Corporation (“AES”) on building the facility and the system will be supplied by Fluence . As the largest provider of power to the greater Phoenix area, SRP is drawing on both AES’ experience developing energy storage projects across its platform and Fluence’s expertise in designing and deploying energy storage solutions in 16 countries. Together, SRP, AES and Fluence will deliver a long-lasting, reliable energy storage solution for central Arizona’s power grid and SRP’s electric customers. This is the first stand-alone system of this type in Arizona.

The Fluence team has a successful track record of deploying and operating energy storage for more than 10 years, including many of the first or largest systems in each market. Fluence delivers superior value for its customers by providing proven, industrial-grade energy storage solutions that perform critical tasks reliably and cost-effectively.

Innovation

Solar energy after the sun goes down

Image of solar panels extending toward the horizon.

Solar panels field at PCSEC located east of Casa Grande that will generate enough power for 5,000 homes with excess energy stored in a battery storage system.

Solar power generation and energy usage have long been at odds. Peak solar energy production follows the sun, occurring when most are at work or school. Energy usage spikes late in the afternoon into the evening with each flick of the switch as SRP customers return home. Being a power source during this high usage period has not typically been the role of solar power — until now. The new Pinal Central Solar Energy Center (PCSEC) in Casa Grande, an integrated solar and battery storage system plant, stores clean energy produced during the day for use whenever energy demand increases.

The plant is the first of three large scale battery storage projects planned by SRP and the largest of its kind in Arizona. SRP will purchase all of the energy produced at the plant, which is owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources .

“The project’s design allows SRP to utilize solar and battery storage together to optimize clean energy output to benefit our customers,” said SRP General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Mike Hummel. “In addition, the plant will assist SRP in meeting our goals for renewable energy while reducing carbon emissions.”

PCSEC by the numbers

  • 20 MW solar photovoltaic generation facility
  • Consists of 258,000 solar panels on 257 acres of land
  • 10 MW lithium-ion battery storage system integrated with plant to store excess energy
  • 150 construction jobs will be created and four full time positions
  • Over $7 million in additional revenue will be generated for Pinal County over the operational lifetime

The SRP Board has set a goal to meet 20 percent of SRP’s retail electricity requirements through sustainable resources by the year 2020.  Currently, SRP is on schedule to meet that goal by utilizing solar, wind, geothermal and hydro power and energy-efficiency measures. Additionally, SRP set a goal to reduce the amount of carbon emissions intensity by 33 percent by 2035.

“We are delighted to work with SRP to bring this innovative solar and energy storage facility online and deliver unprecedented value to its customers,” said Matt Handel, vice president of renewable development for NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. “The project also brings significant economic benefit to the region, creating jobs and providing additional tax revenue to the communities that host it.”

Partnerships

SRP and City of Phoenix partner to plant trees

Image of two workers planting a small tree with a truck in the backround.

The first of many new trees being planted throughout Phoenix as part of the Right Tree/Right Place program.

Nearly 1,200 trees will be planted in parks, schools and public areas as part of the Right Tree/Right Place program developed through a partnership between SRP and the city of Phoenix. The program identifies trees throughout the city that are encroaching on power lines, removes them, and either replants a power-line friendly tree in place or plants replacement trees at city parks, schools or neighborhoods located near the removal areas. Initially, 400 trees from around the city will be removed and replaced improving the safety and electrical reliability for SRP and local neighborhoods.

“The Right Tree/Right Place program will provide Phoenicians with beautiful trees and shade while helping SRP fulfill our obligation to our customers to provide safe and reliable electricity,” said Kelly Barr, SRP associate general manager corporate services and chief sustainability executive.

Each year, SRP Vegetation Management crews trim or remove thousands of trees growing directly under SRP’s distribution and transmission lines that pose risks to electric service reliability and public safety. The Right Tree/Right Place program will reduce this need and sequester an estimated 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to reducing annual emissions from 1,050 passenger vehicles and energy used to power 529 homes.

“The City Council is committed to reducing the urban heat-island effect by doubling the current tree and shade canopy to 25% by 2030,” said Phoenix District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski. “By partnering with SRP, we are using the team Phoenix approach to help us achieve that goal by planting more trees in a smarter way. We are removing trees from potentially dangerous situations and planting new trees in areas where additional shade is needed.”

Reducing our footprint

Workplace charging program largest in Arizona

Jen Wennerlund, Senior IT Analyst, Cartographic & GIS Services, was one of the first employees to drive an electric vehicle to work when she joined SRP in 2013.

It came down to numbers when SRP’s workplace charging program was confirmed as the largest in Arizona. As of 2017, there were 147 charging stations at 18 SRP facilities, 71 of which are reserved for employees. Ninety-six employees commute in an electric vehicle (EV) and those using workplace charging logged over 1 million miles. According to one SRP EV owner, it is a “full-on fabulous program.”

There is more to it than miles logged and charging stations though. It is another program that showcases SRP’s dedication to the environment. Fewer gasoline cars means a decrease in pollution due to car emissions. Collectively, SRP employees who use workplace charging have saved more than 250,000 pounds of carbon dioxide and 25,000 gallons of gasoline.

The workplace program is another piece of the puzzle for SRP when it comes to working towards a sustainable future. There is a plan to grow the program in the next six years, which supports SRP’s 2035 Sustainability Goals, by both reducing carbon dioxide emissions and increasing employees’ awareness of and participation in sustainability initiatives.

This effort is furthered when SRP’s customers become EV owners. To that end, SRP is knowledge sharing with its commercial and industrial customers to support them in creating their own workplace charging programs. The EV charging station rebate program gives business customers $500 for each charging port installed. For residential customers, there is the SRP Drive Electric ™ program that provides guidance on selecting an EV and a price plan that best fits their lifestyle.

Innovation

Drone teams tested and coming to SRP

Research students demonstrate how drones could be used to grab debris out of canals.

“This project features a great balance between real-world problems and fundamental research, which leads to great impact in both industry and academia,” said Dr. Zhang.

Precision position estimation, communications protocols and control algorithms are only a fraction of the work that has been completed by ASU’s Dr. Wenlong Zhang’s students to create “teams” of drones. The new drone teams, which have been successfully tested, are destined to become a part of SRP.

What role could a team of drones potentially fill? Thus far, they have been used to perform collaborative tasks such as land surveillance, ash pond monitoring and collecting water and soil samples. The new technology provides an efficient way to access remote locations and even urban ones, such as the canals, to take samples. The data is then transmitted in real-time to SRP scientists, speeding up the analysis and detection of issues.

SRP has had a research agreement with the ASU Tempe campus for more than 35 years and added a contract specifically for Polytechnic in 2012, with grants going to the campus’s Advanced Technology Innovation Center. The Polytechnic partnership targets projects related to key utility issues and renewable and sustainable energy – and it has thrived.

“It’s really a success story in that the program has grown a lot,” said SRP’s Chico Hunter, Manager, Research & Environmental Policy. “It helps keep us in touch with what is going on and how we can apply it to SRP’s research needs.”

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