NextEra’s next era in California could see 2,700MW of batteries installed by 2024

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Transmission system-connected battery storage. Image: NextEra Energy Resources.

US wholesale electricity supplier NextEra Energy Resources has said 700MW of contracted battery energy storage resources it will deploy in California within two years could be followed by a further 2,000MW pipeline of battery projects under development in the state.

Approval from the state’s regulator, the Public Utilities Commission, has arrived for 523MW of projects already announced by the company and awarded by utilities Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison.

A further 175MW of utility awarded projects did not require CPUC approval. All will be deployed at six existing grid-scale solar energy power plants operated by NextEra Energy Resources. That 698MW of projects will be built by the end of the year 2022.

They include a 230MW battery project at the 250MWac McCoy Solar Energy Centre for SCE and three separate battery projects of 63MW, 115MW and 115MW at the three phases of the 235MWac Blythe Solar Energy Centre, next to McCoy, but in the service area of PG&E.

In addition to that, NextEra said it has a pipeline of close to 2,000MW of projects in California that could go ahead and be completed and grid-connected by 2024 if off-takers for long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) can be found.

The pipeline of battery projects also needs regulatory approval – something they have in common with NextEra Energy Resources’ Eagle Mountain 1,300MW planned pumped hydro storage plant – which could provide up to 18 hours of carbon emissions-free storage if it goes ahead.

“California needs significant investment in battery storage to meet its aggressive clean energy goals. NextEra Energy Resources is answering the call with nearly 700MW of battery storage projects representing a capital investment of nearly US$800 million. We are pleased that last week the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved all 523MW of the projects that required CPUC approval,” NextEra Energy Resources president and CEO John Ketchum said. 

“Once these projects are operational by the end of 2022, Californians will benefit from more low-cost, emission-free solar energy during more hours of the day, as well as improved reliability across the regional electric grid.”

At a recent technical conference hosted by US regulator Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), NextEra Energy Resources VP of renewable energy policy Mark Ahlstrom said that pairing solar and wind with energy storage makes perfect sense, especially given that battery storage costs have fallen more rapidly than many had anticipated. Meanwhile parent company NextEra Energy's CFO Rebecca Kujawa recently said that there is currently a “terrific opportunity” in the US to develop and deploy wind, solar and storage projects. Another NextEra subsidiary, Florida Light & Power is planning to build a 409MW battery storage project in Florida which will assist in the path to decommissioning two natural gas power plants.

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