Arizona is going to get its first storage peaker plant, which will make it the first state outside of California to do so. That's pretty exciting news.
I was recently speaking with Sara Neff, who leads sustainability at Kilroy Realty, and she mentioned that they are starting to put in storage in part due to a sort of moral imperative. California, where Kilroy is headquartered, has a lot of solar generation (yay!) but not an equivalent amount of storage (boo!) so at midday when the utility is cranking out its own power, splashing additional solar into the system isn't doing as much as it could. The trick is to store that free and clean power for later in the day.
Some commercial facilities have started installing storage, or storage and renewable generation, which is super fantastic. But commercial facilities can't carry the load on their own. Where the concept can have a wider impact is when utilities start deploying battery storage plants, such as the new peaker plant planned for Arizona, instead of a high-pollution peaker.
Another strategy Kilroy is deploying strategically is installing EV charging infrastructure. If you think about sustainability as using as little electricity as possible, then the idea of installing battery storage or EV charging might feel counterintuitive. Isn't that increasing consumption?! But if you juice up your sweet EV during peak daylight hours, when the electricity is being produced by cleaner sources, then you're helping out the bigger (carbon footprint) picture much more than by filling up at night off a dirty peaker plant's power. Of course, before I get yelled at, this all depends on your particular region's energy generation mix. And if you are topping off your Tesla off your own PowerWall juiced by your own panels, then bravo for you, no need to brag. And also I'm jealous.
What questions do you have about utility-scale power and how it impacts choices you're making at your facility? If there's anything Building Operating Management can look into for you, let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And look for the June issue of Building Operating Management, featuring Neff's strategies for sustainability leadership.
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