Energy Storage

Ameresco, Colorado Co-op Collaborate on Energy Storage Project

A Colorado electric cooperative said it has joined with energy integrator Ameresco on a battery energy storage system (BESS) project that will serve customers along the state’s northern Front Range.

United Power, founded as rural electric co-op in 1938 and today serving some of the fastest-growing areas of Colorado, on July 10 announced it had signed a 20-year agreement under which Ameresco will install a 78.3-MW/313.34-MWh BESS at multiple sites on the cooperative’s electric distribution system. Ameresco said it expects the system will begin service in 2024.

“The use of batteries on our distribution network is essential to a resilient and responsive power system, and we are excited to be moving ahead with one of the most aggressive plans for such a system,” said Mark A. Gabriel, president and CEO of United Power. “These battery arrays will allow us to balance our power needs throughout the day and incorporate local renewables more efficiently.”

Ameresco will provide four 11.75-MW, and four 7.84-MW, battery arrays across eight different substation sites owned by United Power. The substations are in Adams, Broomfield, and Weld counties and include parts of the Denver-area suburbs. The batteries will allow United Power to store and dispatch power during periods of high demand for electricity. United Power said it’s a way for the co-op to optimize its energy resources and enhance the resilience of the power grid.

‘Resilient and Efficient’

“We are thrilled to partner with United Power on this transformational battery storage project,” said Jon Mancini, Ameresco senior vice president of Solar Project Development. “The inclusion of this expansive asset in Ameresco’s portfolio further underscores the global need for energy storage to bolster clean and sustainable power sources. Energy storage plays a crucial role in enhancing grid reliability, optimizing renewable energy utilization, and fostering a resilient and efficient energy future.”

United Power serves about 110,000 customers and maintains and operates more than 6,500 miles of distribution line. The co-op’s 900-square mile service territory wraps around the north and west borders of Denver International Airport.

Battery energy storage projects are still in an early-adoption period in Colorado. Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, earlier this year announced plans to deploy a 10-MW/1,000-MWh BESS using iron-air battery technology from Form Energy at its retiring Comanche coal-fired plant in Pueblo. Another similar Xcel site this week received regulatory approval for deployment in Minnesota, near the Sherburne County Generating Station.

Colorado officials have said they want 80% of utility-scale power generation in the state to come from renewable energy, including energy storage, by 2030.

This week’s announcement of the United Power project comes just days after Ameresco secured another BESS supply agreement with independent power producer Middle River Power, a private equity group with energy projects in several states. Ameresco said it will deploy four BESS projects in California, with a total capacity of 379 MWh. Those projects are expected to be online late next year.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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