Washington’s First Utility Solar & Battery Project

Mike Paoli, Public Affairs, 509-713-4950
Carla Martinez, Public Affairs, 509-308-0457 

RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Northwest today committed to building an energy storage system as part of a 5-megawatt, combined solar generation and battery storage facility in Richland, Wash.

In partnership with Potelco, based in Sumner, Wash., the agency plans to break ground on the Horn Rapids Solar, Storage & Training Project during the fall of 2019, with commercial operation of the combined facility in 2020.

“The project will help the city of Richland meet upcoming state requirements for renewable generation,” said Clint Gerkensmeyer, project manager for Energy Services & Development. “It’ll demonstrate that the combination of renewable electricity generation and storage technology is an economically viable option for state utilities.”

In addition to providing electricity generation and storage, the facility will serve as a training ground for solar and battery storage technicians. Hundreds of workers from throughout the country are expected to train here each year, bringing to the Tri-Cities at least $3 million in annual economic benefit.

The $6½ million storage project already received a $3 million assist, in 2017, from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, managed by the Department of Commerce. Today’s decision by the EN board of directors marks the final step for the agency’s full project participation.

“This will be the first development to integrate both solar and battery storage into our state’s clean mix of hydro, nuclear and wind generation,” said Terry Brewer, president of the EN board of directors and commissioner for Grant County Public Utility District.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77, which owns the development land, and the Regional Education & Training Center, which leases it, have worked with EN and Potelco since 2015 to help take the project from concept to development. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory provided business and technology consultation throughout the process.

“This is why the state legislature created us,” said Brent Ridge, vice president for EN Corporate Services and chief financial officer, “to build partnerships that directly benefit utility customers. Leaders in city government and at PNNL, the IBEW, the Regional Education & Training Center, Potelco and the Department of Commerce all stepped forward early to identify and propose a best-value path to meet clean energy goals.”

“The city of Richland’s Clint Whitney, who leads their energy services team, was absolutely instrumental in getting us to this day,” said Ridge.

Potelco will finance and construct the 4-megawatt, 20-acre solar generating array of photovoltaic panels. The array will provide enough energy to power 600 homes. EN will build, own and operate the 1-MW battery storage system, which will be capable of powering 150 homes for four hours.

In addition to providing energy directly to Richland’s power distribution system, excess electricity from the solar panels will be stored by the battery system for later use.

“The battery will smooth the solar output, shift off-peak solar generation to times when the energy is needed, and help reduce peak energy demand,” said Gerkensmeyer.

Richland’s Regional Education and Training Center, a non-profit organization focused on training new and incumbent workers, will create the solar and battery training curriculum. Training will cover plant construction, operations, maintenance, and safety and hazard prevention.

The project also offers a unique research opportunity for local energy scientists. Working together, the PNNL and the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute will monitor and analyze data from the project to develop improved battery designs and advanced tools for forecasting load, price, and solar in-feed.

Horn Rapids will be EN’s first generation project since expansion of the Nine Canyon Wind Project in 2007.

 

About Energy Northwest

Energy Northwest owns and operates a diverse mix of 100 percent clean electricity generating resources: hydro, solar and wind projects, and the third-largest provider of electricity in Washington – the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power facility. These projects provide carbon-free electricity at the cost of generation – enough clean, cost-effective and reliable energy to power more than a million homes each year. As an independent joint action agency of Washington state, Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million customers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs. In 2016, the Association of Washington Business named Energy Northwest the state’s Employer of the Year.