UniSource Energy Services plans to more than double its electric energy resources over the next 15 years with new wind, solar, natural gas and storage systems that can support continued reliability amid increasing resource constraints on the regional electric grid.
UniSource’s 2023 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), filed today with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), describes how the company expects to satisfy customers’ increasing energy needs over the next 15 years. The plan calls for the addition of 350 megawatts (MW) of solar and wind resources, 200 MW of natural gas turbines and 225 MW of energy storage systems by 2038. UniSource currently has about 300 MW of generating capacity.
The new resources are needed to support projected growth and reduce reliance on wholesale power purchased from other providers on the regional grid. Reliable energy is becoming increasingly unavailable in the desert Southwest during extreme summer heat, requiring UniSource to develop its own dedicated resources to ensure continued service when customers most need it.
“This balanced, flexible plan identifies the most cost-effective steps we can take to establish greater independence and energy security for our customers,” said Susan Gray, President and CEO. “Our balanced portfolio will help us preserve reliability and affordability in the face of increasing usage and extreme weather while reducing carbon dioxide emissions and mitigating risk.”
UniSource analyzed several potential portfolios based on cost, changes in fuel and energy markets, environmental concerns, new technologies and other factors. The preferred portfolio was found to best address near-term capacity needs while balancing affordability and reliability for customers in both Mohave and Santa Cruz Counties.
The IRP does not determine the location, capacity or other specific details of new energy resources. Those determinations are made after reviewing bids submitted in response to the all-source requests for proposals that UniSource uses to develop new energy resources. Because the process allows developers to propose competing technologies that satisfy performance requirements, it creates opportunities for alternatives that provide comparable reliability at competitive costs.
The plan will be reviewed by the ACC in a process that includes opportunities for public comment. For updates on that process and more information about UniSource’s 2023 IRP, visit uesaz.com/2023IRP.