Idaho Power shuns PPA in bid for battery energy storage capacity

Boise Idaho clean energy
Idaho Power is based out of Boise.

Idaho Power requested approval from its regulators for a plan to install and own 524MWh/120MW of battery storage. This plan was to be in place by the summer 2023.

If approved, the batteries could be the first utility scale storage system in Idaho. In May 2021, the company issued a request to proposals for new resources to meet its 2023 energy requirements. The utility chose Powin Energy in Portland, Oregon to install the systems.

Idaho Power stated in its application for approval that it is resource sufficient since the addition a decade ago of the Langley Gulch natural-gas fired power plant. The capacity deficit was not predicted by its planning models until mid-2028. The outlook began to shift in 2021, when planners projected a deficit beginning in 2023 and continuing into 2026. A handful of factors led to the deficit, the utility said, including growing demand, transmission availability and what the utility said was a “diminishing demand response resource effectiveness.”

According to the utility, the proposed projects include 40 MW energy storage with a 40MW solar photovoltaic project called Black Mesa. Another 80 MW of storage would be located at the utility’s Hemingway substation.

Idaho Power applied for approval to acquire the systems. The company cited a relative lack flexibility in power purchase agreements (PPAs) as a reason. It stated that terms regarding dispatchability, curtailment and maintenance, as well as operational terms, would be included in a PPA. It said that a PPA’s lack of flexibility would introduce challenges, particularly in the western Energy Imbalance Market where dispatch changes are made in real time and within an hour.

“For a utility-scale battery storage facility in particular, PPA arrangements introduce additional complications,” the utility said in its filing.

The utility would still be able to focus on price, but it would also be able to concentrate on economic dispatch and changing the energy markets. It stated that the ownership model would best suit its needs and those it serves, as it wants to meet energy deficits as well as capacity.

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.

Powin said it would supply its Stack750, a 1500Vdc modular battery product that uses its branded Centipede hardware platform. A string can contain up to 21 modules.