Solar, Storage Among New Projects in Texas

Several companies have announced new energy projects in Texas, including three utility-scale battery energy storage systems (BESS), and a solar farm that will benefit customers in the western part of the state.

The projects were announced August 19. In addition, officials in Houston on Wednesday said they have awarded a contract for a microgrid that will provide backup power for one of the city’s water purification plants. The project is considered the largest microgrid supporting a water-pumping plant in the U.S.

And American Electric Power (AEP) on Tuesday said its subsidiary AEP Renewables has completed the purchase of Invenergy’s interests in two wind farms in the state.

Construction Set for BESS Projects

Construction of the BESS installations is expected to begin within a few weeks, with the systems online by next summer. Key Capture Energy (KCE), headquartered in Albany, New York, with an office in Houston, on Wednesday said it has selected Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) and Powin Energy as partners on the project. The work includes three projects—the 50-MW KCE TX 11, 50-MW KCE TX 23, and 100-MW KCE TX 12. MHPS will provide turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction, as well as long-term service support for all direct current (DC) equipment, power conversion systems, and high-voltage substations. Powin, based in Tualatin, Oregon, will provide a fully integrated battery, a battery management system, and long-term service.

KCE has been at the forefront of adding energy storage to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid. ERCOT manages much of the state’s deregulated electricity market.

The companies in Wednesday’s announcement noted that MHPS and Powin each have extensive lithium-ion energy storage experience, and the two groups developed a custom solution to meet KCE’s technical requirements. The systems will use lithium-iron phosphate battery chemistry, known as LiFePO4, combined with fast-acting controls and power conversion systems from other suppliers.

Key Capture Energy has chosen Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Powin as partners for construction of three utility-scale battery energy storage system projects totaling 200 MW in Texas. This is a rendering of one of the projects. Courtesy: Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems

“As an industry-leading energy storage solution provider, MHPS has a strong history of technological innovation, a proven track record in large-scale project management, and strong financial positioning,” said Jeff Bishop, CEO of KCE. “We are pleased to partner with MHPS to supply full turnkey solutions for this round of Texas projects. Texas is the epicenter of the global energy market, and with a growing Houston office, we look forward to providing best-in-class energy storage solutions in the Lone Star state for decades to come.”

Tom Cornell, an MHPS vice president, said, “Key Capture Energy is a premier developer with an impressive 1,500 MW of standalone battery storage projects in its pipeline across the country. We look forward to joining forces in Texas to build battery energy storage for ERCOT’s needs. With today’s increasing penetration of renewable energy, it’s an ideal time for projects such as this to optimize the grid.”

The BESS projects expand all three companies’ presence in ERCOT. KCE is the second-largest operator of standalone battery storage projects in Texas, with three operating projects totaling 29.7 MW. Powin contributed the battery system integrator for each of those projects.

Companies in the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group have been investing in lower-carbon intensive energy technology in Texas, including 2 GW of onshore wind power and 1.3 GW of gas-fired generation.

Solar Farm Enters Operation

An Irvine, California-headquartered company, 174 Power Global, on Wednesday said it has completed and energized its Oberon Solar Power Facility in Texas. The company said its affiliate, Chariot Energy, has entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) for 30 MW of the 180-MW project.

“This is a major milestone for both 174 Power Global and Chariot Energy, as we commissioned this project as a means of helping transform the way energy is generated and provided to the grid,” said Henry Yun, president and CEO of 174 Power Global and Chariot Energy. “This announcement underscores our commitment to providing sustainable energy solutions to homes and businesses across the state.”

174 Power Global broke ground on the project, located near Odessa in Ector County, in June 2019. The array includes more than 560,000 solar panels.

“Last year, we set out to position Chariot Energy as a leader in the renewable energy space at the consumer level in Texas, in addition to providing world-class customer service and transparency in our product offerings,” said Yun. “Today’s announcement does just that.”

Backup Power for Water Plant

Houston-based Enchanted Rock on Wednesday said it was awarded a contract from the city to provide electrical resiliency services to the city’s Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) Expansion facility. The natural gas-fueled microgrid will provide facility backup for 100% of the required finished water production capacity during outages.

Enchanted Rock said the microgrid will enable greater operational reliability during maintenance and grid outage periods at the facility, which is scheduled for completion in early 2022. The new plant will service Harris and Fort Bend counties.

Enchanted Rock owns, operates, and maintains backup power systems. Its microgrids are designed to provide operational reliability to commercial businesses. Courtesy: Enchanted Rock LLC

“The NEWPP project will add 320 million gallons per day by 2024 to the existing water plant’s capacity,” said Ravi Kaleyatodi, P.E., and the project director for the NEWPP expansion. “The City of Houston evaluated several companies and selected Enchanted Rock for this project based on technical requirements, performance of past projects, and competitive pricing.”

Isaac Maze-Rothstein, a research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said his group “reviewed 3,389 planned and operational microgrid projects that we track in the United States, and we determined this project will be the largest microgrid in the country supporting a water pumping plant when it comes online in 2022.”

Enchanted Rock owns, operates, and maintains backup power systems, utilizing its integrated Reliability on Call (iROC) service. The company said the iROC model allows the NEWPP facility to receive backup power at a much-lower cost than a standard reliability system. The company’s backup power systems enabled a Houston grocery store chain to remain open in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“We are honored to have been selected by the City of Houston for such a critical project,” said Thomas McAndrew, founder and CEO of Enchanted Rock. “This partnership will help ensure safe drinking water for the residents of Fort Bend and Harris counties during unexpected outages, which occur frequently in this storm-prone region.”

AEP Buys Invenergy’s Interest in Wind Farms

AEP on August 18 said its renewable energy subsidiary, AEP Renewables, completed the purchase of Invenergy’s 20.1% interest in the Desert Sky and Trent Mesa wind facilities in Texas. AEP Renewables and Invenergy have jointly owned the facilities since 2018. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Both the 170-MW Desert Sky facility, located near Iraan, Texas, and the 156-MW Trent Mesa wind farm, sited between Abilene and Sweetwater, were built in the early 2000s and repowered in 2018.

“AEP Renewables is focused on developing and operating renewable generation facilities to help meet the long-term, clean energy goals of utilities, electric cooperatives, municipalities and corporate customers. With the full capacity of Trent Mesa and Desert Sky, AEP Renewables can better support the increasing demands of its expanding renewable customer base,” said Greg Hall, president of AEP Renewables, which has offices in Columbus, Ohio, and San Diego, California.

Darrell Proctor is associate editor for POWER (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).

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