APS Brings Battery Storage to Rural Arizona

APS_battery_storage_photoInstead of rebuilding about 20 miles of transmission and distribution poles and wires, Arizona Public Service (APS) will install two battery storage systems in rural Punkin Center, Arizona, making it one of the first electricity companies in the nation to use batteries in place of traditional infrastructure. The two 4-megawatt-hour (MWh) Advancion batteries are made by AES Energy Storage. Construction on the project will begin in fall 2017.

“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 megawatts 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.

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