Idaho Power announces plans for Idaho’s first large-scale battery storage projects 

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

Idaho Power has announced plans to install 120 megawatts (MW) of battery storage that will help maintain reliable service during periods of high use while furthering the company’s goal of providing 100% clean energy by 2045.

3D Render of Powin Centipede Installation. Created by Bertholt. Image courtesy of Powin

Idaho Power stated its planning process shows additional capacity is needed as early as summer 2023 to serve customers during peak hours, especially early evenings following hot summer days when irrigation pumps and air conditioners drive up electrical demand. 

Several factors are driving the need for additional capacity, according to the company, including the region’s strong economy and rapid population growth. Transmission constraints have also restricted the company’s ability to import energy from the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. 

While batteries don’t generate electricity, they can store power generated during periods of lower use, then deliver it when customers need it. A 40-MW battery can power more than 13,000 average homes for four hours during periods of peak use, according to Idaho Power, and more when energy demand is lower. The batteries can be completely recharged in about four hours, depending on their energy source. Batteries also help to integrate renewable resources like solar and wind by supplying predictable power regardless of weather.  

“This is an exciting step for Idaho Power,” said Adam Richins, Idaho Power senior vice president and chief operating officer, in a statement. “Not only are we adding capacity to serve our customers, but we are taking advantage of advancements in technology that will be key to our future. Battery storage enables us to use existing generation sources efficiently while setting the stage for more clean energy in the coming years.”  

The batteries are scheduled to come online by June 2023. The location and cost are still being determined. 

Idaho Power stated that right now, land near the proposed Black Mesa solar facility in Elmore County is being considered as a location for a 40-MW system. Idaho Power’s Hemingway substation near Melba is a viable location for the other 80 MW; other options are being considered for both. The batteries can be powered from any source. 

Idaho Power told the Idaho Business Review (IBR) it is still in the process of negotiating a number of agreements necessary for the construction, installation and maintenance of the battery storage projects. The company’s request (filed April 29) to the Idaho Public Utilities Commission is that the commission find Idaho Power has met the requirements of the Idaho Code and issue an order granting a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. Essentially, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission will determine whether the proposal is in the public interest.  

Idaho Power stated it will make a future filing to address the cost recovery associated with these battery storage projects. 

Image courtesy of Powin

The company issued a request for proposals in May 2021 for new resources to meet 2023 energy needs. Idaho Power told the IBR it sent a Request for Quotes to eight different battery manufacturers to procure the most economical solution for a storage project, ultimately selecting Portland, Oregon-based Powin to install the systems, which will be owned by Idaho Power. 

“We expect to integrate the new Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) into our system and operate and maintain the new facilities with existing staffing levels,” Idaho Power told the IBR. “The systems will be managed similarly to existing substations, with similar personnel and will not have dedicated employees devoted to the BESS system alone. A BESS does not require daily onsite operators like a gas or hydro facility would. However, vendor support throughout the life specific to the BESS is also anticipated.” 

Powin is a proven BESS manufacturer in the industry and is described by Idaho Power as “the most viable option for meeting the company’s energy storage needs.” 

“We’re pleased to support Idaho Power and its 600,000-plus customers with 120 MW of battery storage solutions,” said Powin CEO Geoff Brown in a statement. “The Powin Stack750 product will allow Idaho Power to efficiently store power and deploy it when it’s needed the most. As regulated utilities, IPPs and developers across the country add energy storage to their systems and achieve renewable energy goals, we’re proud to be their trusted partner.” 

Idaho Power’s most recent long-range plan calls for adding nearly 1,700 MW of battery storage and more than 2,100 MW of solar and wind capacity by 2040, according to the announcement. These additions will complement the company’s 17 hydroelectric projects as it transitions away from coal-fired plants. 

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