"AES plans to bring big batteries to Oregon's grid"
This AES Energy Storage project in West Virginia is to date the largest battery installation the company has done. The proposal AES is mulling for Portland General Electric would be even bigger.
By Lee van der Voo
Sustainable Business Oregon contributing writer
AES Energy Storage, the Virginia-based subsidiary of $17 billion global power giant The AES Corporation, intends to offer its battery storage technology to Portland General Electric to help the utility bridge resource gaps and incorporate more renewable energy into its mix.
Should AES dive in, the company could be the first to propose a commercial-scale battery project in Oregon, which, if built, would be among the first in the nation. Battery-powered energy storage is a good fit for Oregon's energy mix and could solve some of the most pressing problems plaguing the grid as more renewable energy sources come online.
AES' proposal — so far an unofficial one — comes in response to a request for proposals by PGE that is in its draft stage at the Oregon Public Utility Commission, expected to be made official in June.
The utility is looking for approximately 200 MW of year-round flexible capacity to maintain reliability during peak demand and also provide the flexibility that addresses the spikes and dives of wind, solar and other renewable energy production. The utility is also looking for 150 MW that can peak in winter and 200 MW that can peak in both summer and winter.
PGE also needs between 300 MW and 500 MW of new power, in part to bridge a current gap between its power supply and demand, one that will grow wider in June with the expiration of contracts for mid-Columbia hydropower.
“What AES is planning to propose in the RFP is probably 200 MW of battery-based storage that would be an alternative to building a new gas-fired plant, which is the typical way that a utility will need to meet energy capacity needs,” said Praveen Kathpal, who leads Northwest development for AES Energy Storage.
AES will indeed be competing against gas-fired solutions. In terms of solutions PGE can build itself, the utility is considering building two new gas plants, one in Boardman and one at its Port Westward Plant near Clatskanie. A gas plant has also been proposed for a site in Troutdale.