TEP Plans Next-Generation Power Plant to Support Solar Energy Expansion
July 7, 2017 | Tucson, Ariz.–(Business Wire)– Tucson Electric Power (TEP) is seeking bids for the engineering, design and construction of an efficient new type of natural gas generator in Tucson that will help provide reliable electric service by supporting the expansion of renewable energy.
With a request for proposals (RFP) issued today, TEP is seeking a contractor to design and build a new facility that will house 10 flexible, fast-responding natural gas reciprocating internal combustion engines with a combined capacity of up to 200 megawatts (MW). TEP plans to bring half of the units online by mid-2019 and the remaining units into service by mid-2021.
The new power plant will be built near TEP’s H. Wilson Sundt Generating Station on the company’s 344-acre Irvington Campus, located near East Irvington Road and South Alvernon Way.
“The addition of these efficient natural gas resources will help us to preserve safe, reliable and affordable service for customers as our community continues to expand its reliance on renewable energy,” said David G. Hutchens, TEP’s President and CEO.
Reciprocating engines have been identified as a cost-effective resource to help compensate for power fluctuations and other issues associated with the expansion of renewable energy resources, including a growing supply of private solar power systems and TEP’s own community-scale solar and wind resources.
Reciprocating engines run efficiently and cost-effectively even while making abrupt and frequent adjustments to power output levels. They produce fewer emissions than traditional natural gas generating units and require minimal water for cooling. As the new units are brought into service, TEP plans to shut down two out of four steam generator units currently in operation at the Sundt Generating Station, reducing operating costs and improving the plant’s emissions profile.
Nearly 11 percent of the power delivered last year to TEP’s retail customers came from renewable resources. TEP is working to deliver at least 30 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2030, doubling the state’s 2025 goal.
TEP has approximately 541 MW of total renewable generating capacity, enough to meet the annual electric needs of about 115,000 homes. This includes about 254 MW of community-scale solar systems and about 202 MW of private solar power systems.
The company recently announced plans to buy solar energy at a historically low price of less than three cents per kilowatt hour from a new 100-MW direct current solar array and an accompanying 30-MW energy storage system that are expected to be in service by the end of 2019. TEP anticipates an additional 800 MW of new renewable capacity by the end of 2030, boosting its total renewable energy portfolio to approximately 1,200 MW.
The RFP for the new reciprocating engine power plant is being managed by New Hampshire-based Accion Group. More information can be found at https://tepepc2017.accionpower.com. Final bids are due Oct. 2. The successful bidder will be announced in November.