1st Major US Utility Solar, Storage & Wind Project

by: Pete Danko: Portland Business Journal

Portland General Electric’s next big renewable energy resource will be a unique combination of wind, solar and battery energy storage in Eastern Oregon, the utility announced Wednesday.

In a deal with a NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) subsidiary, PGE (NYSE: POR) will own 100 megawatts of a 300-megawatt wind farm to be co-located with a 50-megawatt solar power array and a battery storage system capable of putting out 30 megawatts for up to four hours.

PGE said it expects the ownership stake in the wind farm to cost around $160 million. It will buy the remaining output from the facility from NextEra under a 30-year power purchase agreement.

The falling costs of wind, solar and batteries have made projects pairing one of the intermittent resources with energy storage increasingly affordable in recent years. But PGE and NextEra said the Wheatridge Renewable Energy Facility “will be the first of this scale in North America to co-locate and integrate these three technologies.”

Batteries can enhance the value of renewable energy resources by helping them provide reliable output, especially at peak demand — cold winter mornings and hot summer evenings for PGE. The utility said plans call for the batteries at Wheatridge to be charged by the solar array.

The deal comes out of a renewable energy request for proposals conducted last year by PGE under the watch of the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

The project, located north of the town of Lexington in Morrow County, will push PGE's wind power capacity, owned or under contract, to 1 gigawatt, "enough power to serve the equivalent of 340,000 homes," the utility said.

Oregon has a renewable energy mandate for its investor-owned utilities that’s at 15 percent now, rising to 20 percent in 2020, on the way to 50 percent by 2040.

PGE is also facing political pressure to go green as fast as possible; the city of Portland and Multnomah County have both passed resolutions calling for 100 percent of the electricity used in their jurisdictions to come from renewable sources by 2035.

OSEIA Oregon Solar