In a separate decision, regulators said a New Mexico utility can replace the power it gets from the San Juan coal plant with solar and storage.
EDF Renewables plans to build a 200-megawatt solar plant with a 180-megawatt/720-megawatt-hour battery for Nevada utility NV Energy, the developer announced Wednesday, adding to the growing list of large solar-and-storage projects under construction within the state and the broader region.
Even at that size, the project will only barely make it onto the list of the 10 largest batteries in the U.S., based on Wood Mackenzie’s database tracking confirmed project details. This month NV Energy filed a proposal with state regulators to add 478 megawatts of new solar and 338 megawatts of new storage by the end of 2023. EDF’s project, called Chuckwalla Solar+Storage, is the largest among that portfolio.
Only a year ago, EDF’s plans would have ranked among the largest battery projects in the world, but each subsequent project announcement made recently seems to outpace those preceding it. The largest solar-storage project currently planned in the U.S., Gemini Solar from Arevia Power and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, is also slated to be located in Nevada with NV Energy as offtaker.
Such projects have become increasingly common in the U.S., especially in the West and Southwest. Also on Wednesday, regulators in New Mexico approved 650 megawatts of solar and 300 megawatts of storage to replace electricity that the San Juan Generating Station now delivers to Public Service Company of New Mexico.
“It’s a sign of the times that an announcement of a 720-megawatt-hour project doesn’t raise eyebrows anymore,” said Dan Finn-Foley, WoodMac’s head of energy storage. “What is notable…is how solar-plus-storage systems and contract terms are being structured, and this provides another data point.”
“Energy storage is a flexible resource, and it’s notable that so much of that flexibility comes not just in its operation but in planning,” Finn-Foley said. “Storage can be sized for varied durations to meet needs, but contract terms can include longer or shorter [power-purchase agreements] or different payment structures to ensure flexibility.”
EDF and NV Energy signed a 22-year power-purchase agreement. EDF did not immediately respond to questions on the PPA’s pricing.
NV Energy’s race for solar power
This is not EDF’s first deal with NV Energy. In 2017, EDF acquired two First Solar projects under contract with the Nevada utility. Last year EDF and NV Energy inked another PPA for a 200-megawatt solar and a 75-megawatt/5-hour-duration battery project. Both that project and Chuckwalla will be located on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians Reservation, with the Moapa Tribe receiving land lease and tax payments from project construction and siting. First Solar and 8minute Solar Energy have also planned solar projects on Moapa Tribal lands.
The announcement from EDF, and the broader solar and storage proposal from NV Energy, shed more light on how Nevada’s largest utility plans to meet new state requirements for achieving 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by midcentury. Last year, regulators approved the Berkshire Hathaway-owned utility’s plans for 1.2 gigawatts of solar and 590 megawatts of new storage. In its more recent filing with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, NV Energy also requested approval for 600 miles of new transmission lines to deliver power from the utility’s growing roster of renewables projects.
Earlier this month, NV Energy reported to state regulators that it had exceeded the 2019 requirement that renewables and energy efficiency account for 20 percent of its retail energy sales.