Indiana gas plant spurned – wind, solar and storage respond

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Indiana’s Speedway Solar Project came in at under $1/watt, and renewable energy is causing gas turbine manufacturers sleep issues – which means soon enough, pv magazine USA might not cover this angle again.

Vectren, a utility in southwestern Indiana serving 144,000 customers, has received bids in its 2019/2020 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The purpose of the IRP was to fulfill a projected capacity need of approximately 700 MW beginning in the 2023/2024 planning year. 32 companies submitted a notice of intent, and a large majority of these were proposing wind, solar and energy storage – with solar having a majority of the 100 bids submitted.

 

Vectren’s electric customers are currently served by a mixed portfolio of 1,000 megawatts (MW) of coal fired generation, up to 225 MW of gas-fired generation and 4 MWs of solar coupled with 1 MW of storage. Other power purchase agreements exist for electricity wheeled into the region.

And while we are light on data just yet for pricing and volume specifics, we might be able to find some insight from a similarly and nearby IRP last summer where solar, wind and storage took a leading position to replace NIPSCO’s coal plants – actually shutting them down early – in 2023 and 2028, and saving rate payers money.

The actual pricing information (below image) came from later on public revelations in the IRP process, than the release highlighted in the above paragraph.

Two formats – asset sale or PPAs – were submitted. Solar power asset sales, for 1.3 GW-AC worth of projects, were priced at $1.15/watt. The solar+storage project asset sales, 705 MW-AC worth, were bid at $1.18/W.

The solar PPAs, 26 of which that totaled almost 3.6 GW-AC of capacity, were averaged to 3.57¢/kWh. Solar+storage projects, just over 1 GW-AC, included the standard PPA price above and added a $5.90/kW per month capacity payment.

 

A pattern -> Coal or Gas, or Gas declined, Solar+Wind+Storage+Efficiency

Historically speaking though, what we’re really interested in here is a story of how this came together – and much of this was brought to this author’s attention by Evansville Courier & Press reporter Mark Wilson.

In Glendale, California an upgrade from a 267 MW 80 year old gas plant to 310 MW plant was declined. Part of the reason for the decline was that during the three years of predicted downtime while the power plant is rebuilt, only 75 MW of power was noted as needed per a contract with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Instead a quite modern solution was decided upon: 75 MW, 300 MWh battery energy storage system, up to 50 MW of distributed solar projects, energy efficiency and demand response programs – plus a 50 MW simple-cycle gas turbine known as Unit 9 will remain, and Glendale will retain rights to the 50 MW Magnolia power plant in Burbank.

The NIPSCO project above linked to above modeled between 600 and 1,750 MW of coal to be retired, with the middle suggestion of 1.35 GW being chosen as a highly desired economic solution.

The trading of coal and gas infrastructure, one utility infrastructure resource plan at a time is slowly is turning from a trickle to a roar.