Grady County, Okla. – The profile of Rush Springs Energy Storage is rather unassuming – nine storage containers filled with thousands of the sort of battery modules you’d find in a laptop computer – but the site could have a groundbreaking impact on the future of renewable energy in the region.
“Wind farms and solar facilities generate electricity only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, but battery energy storage has the power to change that equation dramatically,” said Brian Tobin, vice president of energy storage for NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. “When paired with batteries, renewable energy facilities can offer low-cost, clean energy any hour of the day, even when the wind is not blowing and the sun doesn’t shine.”
Rush Springs Storage is a 10 megawatt, 2-hour energy storage system. It is co-located with the Rush Springs Wind Energy Center near Marlow, Okla., with both facilities owned and operated by subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources. The batteries are designed to store wind energy during periods in which demand is low or when the energy otherwise would have been lost or “clipped” when the wind turbines generated electricity that the larger electric grid could not accommodate. This stored energy is then released to the grid when needed, during times of peak demand or when the wind isn’t blowing. The paired facilities represent a pilot program to help NextEra Energy Resources and the regional grid operator, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), learn how storage can both optimize the operations of a wind facility and improve the reliability of the larger electric grid.
“We are seeing how the batteries can help us balance traffic on the regional electric grid, smoothing out the variability of renewable resources such as wind,” said Bruce Rew, senior vice president of operations for SPP. “There is potential for energy storage to provide value for utilities and other generators, and we’re evaluating how best to bring those new assets onto the grid.”
Rush Springs Storage became the first energy storage facility in the SPP market (which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming) when it began operations in March. In 2021, SPP officials plan to release new design rules for energy storage systems, which will provide additional guidance for expanding storage facilities in the region.
“With more coal plants retiring, renewable energy will play a larger role in SPP’s energy profile,” said Rew. “Pairing renewables with battery storage has the potential to create an increasingly firm energy product that is also low-cost and clean.”
NextEra Energy Resources is a leader in the growing energy storage industry, with approximately 165 MW of energy storage systems currently in operation across the country. In Oklahoma, the company’s Skeleton Creek Project near Enid is expected to become the first project in the region and among the largest projects in the country to combine wind energy, solar energy and battery storage in the same location – essentially modeling the profile of a traditional power plant, only with 100% renewable energy. The wind portion of the project is expected to begin operations later this year, with the solar and storage components expected to come online in 2023.
NextEra Energy Resources
NextEra Energy Resources, LLC (together with its affiliated entities, “NextEra Energy Resources”), is a clean energy leader and is one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the U.S., with approximately 21,900 megawatts of total net generating capacity, primarily in 37 states and Canada as of year-end 2019. NextEra Energy Resources, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun and a world leader in battery storage. The business operates clean, emissions-free nuclear power generation facilities in New Hampshire and Wisconsin as part of the NextEra Energy nuclear fleet. NextEra Energy Resources, LLC is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE). For more information, visit www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.
Southwest Power Pool, Inc. is a regional transmission organization: a not-for-profit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP manages the electric grid across 17 central and western U.S. states and provides energy services on a contract basis to customers in both the Eastern and Western Interconnections. The company’s headquarters are in Little Rock, Arkansas. Learn more at SPP.org.