Arizona Public Service using energy storage to replace T&D in rural project

Arizona Public Service has chosen to install new battery storage systems instead of rebuilding a stretch of transmission infrastructure in rural Arizona.

APS will install two 4-MWh Advancion batteries in Punkin Center Arizona beginning in the fall. The Advancion batteries are made by AES Energy Storage. The project may be one of the first nationally in which a utility uses storage to replace traditional transmission and distribution buildout.

“This project is a crucial step in the right direction for Arizona’s energy future,” said Scott Bordenkircher, APS’s Director of Transmission and Distribution Technology Innovation and Integration. “Over the next 15 years, APS has plans to add 500 MW of storage capacity. This project is indicative of the type of smart grid APS envisions for customers, one that enables people to have more technology in their own homes. “

Currently, APS is using batteries to store excess solar power for use after the sun goes down, for storing energy to use at peak times and for other functions such as voltage support . This project is unique in that the primary function of the battery is basic grid operation. To reliably serve new customers in the growing community of Punkin Center, APS was faced with rebuilding 20 miles of power lines over rough terrain. A review of the community’s needs showed that adding battery storage would provide these additional benefits at a similar cost to rebuilding the lines.

“We are watching as the prices come down on battery technology,” said Bordenkircher. “Thoughtful implementation of battery storage is key to its future success. For a community like Punkin Center, the rural location, reduced implementation costs and added technological benefits make it the perfect candidate for this technology. “

The batteries will increase power reliability to serve the community of 600 residents, located roughly 90 minutes northeast of downtown Phoenix. The battery project will be built with the capability to add energy capacity as the need arises over the next five to 10 years. The pair of 4-MWh battery storage systems are expected to be operational in early 2018.

This is not APS’s first foray into battery storage. Last December, APS installed two AES battery storage units in the West Valley as part of the Solar Partner Program.

APS serves about 2.7 million people in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties. The utility touts its energy mix as being nearly 50 percent carbon free.

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