Extra utilities bypassing natural gas bridge and going straight to renewables

Jul 2, 2020 10:55 AM ET
  • Utilities that are transitioning far from coal are beginning to see the development of a gas "bridge" to renewable resource as an unneeded step.
Extra utilities bypassing natural gas bridge and going straight to renewables
Image: Jake Cook, Flickr

Utilities that are transitioning far from coal are starting to see the development of a gas "bridge" to renewable resource as an unnecessary step. Last week utilities in Arizona, Colorado as well as Florida revealed plans to shut several of their coal plants and develop renewables without including any kind of new gas-fired generation.

Individually, team at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission suggested a comparable gas-free shift when analyzing the future capability requirements of the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).

Renewable resource business economics have actually been testing the competition of coal for some time now, yet these newest actions suggest a greater self-confidence that the switch from coal to renewables can be done cost effectively and also dependably without the building and construction of brand-new gas terminated generation as an acting step.

"Up until lately, the simple choice for utilities would certainly have been to recommend utilizing gas to replace coal. However not any longer. Rising concerns concerning climate adjustment and also continuing reductions in wind, solar as well as battery storage space expenses combined with enhanced efficiency have actually modified the playing field," Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) claimed.

Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) both detailed their plans to miss the gas bridge as they shift away from coal in their resource plans. Meanwhile, Florida Power & Light (FPL) and also Jacksonville's metropolitan utility, JEA, entered into an agreement under which they will count on existing gas and also brand-new solar generation to retire their jointly-owned facility, Unit 4 at Plant Scherer, the largest coal-fired plant in the US.

According to the IEEFA, to replace JEA's share of the device's result, both utilities signed a lasting, fixed-price power purchase contract under which FPL will market electrical power to JEA from among its leaving gas-fired generation units. Under the arrangement, JEA can decide to change to solar power at the 10-year mark.

TEP's proposition calls for closing all of its coal-fired generation by 2031 and replacing this ability with 2,457 MW of brand-new wind as well as solar generation and 1,400 MW of battery storage. Similarly, CSU's strategy likewise calls for changing coal ability with wind, solar as well as storage space generation. It plans to add 500 MW of brand-new wind generation, 150 MW of new solar and also 400 MW of battery capability. To enable the layoff of its 208 MW Martin Drake Power Plant in 2023, CSU will certainly be installing momentary gas generators at the site "to ensure system reliability." CSU said that it will remove these generators as its brand-new eco-friendly as well as storage projects are finished.