Tucson Electric Power (TEP) announced its newest and largest solar power system is now online. The new Wilmot Energy Center (WEC), located on 1,130 acres southeast of Tucson International Airport, includes a 100-MW solar array and 30-MW battery energy storage system — each the largest of their kind on TEP’s local energy grid. TEP will purchase power from the WEC under a long-term agreement with an affiliate of NextEra Energy Resources, its owner and operator.
The batteries will be charged by 314,000 solar panels that can track the movement of the sun for increased production. On most days, TEP will charge the battery in the morning and early afternoon when solar resources are most productive, then deliver stored energy during peak usage periods.
“Storage makes solar power even more valuable by helping us provide clean, renewable energy when customers need it most,” said Susan Gray, TEP president and CEO.
Battery storage is critical to a clean energy future because it helps utilities provide reliable service with growing levels of wind and solar resources. Storage can help smooth out imbalances when clouds block the sun or wind patterns shift and can store clean energy for periods when customers need it most.
This month, TEP will also start delivering power from its new 250-MW Oso Grande Wind project in New Mexico. With the addition of the two systems, TEP has the ability to produce nearly 26% of its power from renewable resources.
“These systems more than double our large-scale renewable energy resources and represent a big step toward the cleaner, greener grid we’re building for our customers,” Gray said. “TEP is taking action on behalf of our community to protect our climate.”
In addition to providing cleaner energy for every customer, the new systems allow TEP to provide 100% clean energy to the University of Arizona’s main campus through an innovative long-term partnership. The agreement is the largest bilateral renewable energy agreement between a university and electric utility in North America and enables the school to offset all of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with its purchased electricity.
As a physical demonstration of the Large Scale Renewable Energy Agreement on campus, TEP installed solar panels that now shade a rooftop garden on the university’s Environment and Natural Resources 2 Building. The ENR2 Rooftop Photovoltaics (PV)+ Project serves as an experimental education and research site for students to study the co-location of solar panels and growing of plants.
Customers can check TEP’s renewable energy output anytime by visiting the Clean Energy Tracker at tep.com/solar-dashboard. Updated every three minutes, the gauges and graphs provide a real-time look at how TEP is satisfying customer energy needs with wind and solar power.
News item from TEP