Agilitas Energy, a developer of distributed and smaller utility-scale solar PV and battery storage projects in the US, has entered the Texas ERCOT market.
The company said yesterday that it has agreed to acquire a portfolio of standalone energy storage projects in development for around US$75 million, from Gulf States Renewable Energy, a Texas-based subsidiary of California solar and battery storage development company GSR Energy.
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Comprising six assets totalling 60MW output in the Greater Houston area of Texas, they will serve utility CenterPoint Energy, which serves residential customers in the region, charging with surplus energy at off-peak times, for inputting to the grid when demand peaks and it is most needed.
They are identically designed and sized at 9.96MW/20.721MWh each, with BYD Energy as battery supplier. Two will begin commercial operation this year and the remaining four will come online in 2024. Agilitas will buy each project when fully permitted and ready to enter the construction stage.
It marks a geographical departure for Agilitas, which has to date focused on the Northeastern US, with projects that include Rhode Island’s first-ever utility-scale BESS, a 3MW/9MWh asset that came online last year. Other projects include community solar-plus-storage in Massachusetts that qualified for that state’s SMART incentive programme.
It also marks something of a departure in a sense that its projects to date have focused on renewable energy markets in US states or grid operator regions that are policy driven e.g, feed-in tariff or net metering, with additional wholesale market participation and behind-the-meter benefits like peak shaving, whereas Texas’ ERCOT wholesale market is much more of a merchant play.
At the end of last year, Agilitas president and board member Barrett Bilotta said the company was looking to build on the momentum it had built up in the Northeast and expand into additional markets, but at the time did not mention which ones that might include nor drop hints that Texas was in the frame.
In one of our Year-in-Review 2022 Q&A blogs, Bilotta did say however that Agilitas Energy expected to be able “to leverage the benefits afforded by the IRA,” noting that as part of the energy storage industry in a country freshly committed to supporting clean energy that “we have lots of momentum propelling us forward”.
Agilitas raised US$350 million in equity investment last year from global alternative asset management group CarVal Investors to help fuel its expansion, while Bilotta also noted that the developer doubled its employee headcount in 2022.
“Texas has always represented the holy grail of energy and is one of our key expansion markets because it’s a leader in energy production, energy consumption and renewables,” Bilotta said of the deal yesterday.
ERCOT was a topic of focus in our recent webinar with energy trading and storage asset optimisation firm GridBeyond, which is building on its experience in the UK and Ireland energy storage markets to take on Texas. GridBeyond’s heads of energy trading and forecasting discussed the available revenue opportunities for batteries in ERCOT and how best to capture them.
Bilotta noted that in addition to expanding into Texas, Agilitas is also “planning to bolster our renewable portfolio to include sources beyond solar, partnering with other leading renewable developers to achieve these goals as necessary”.