More than 40 people representing utilities, tribes, solar developers and state officials gathered to discuss access to the Palo Verde hub and potential opportunities to move utility-scale solar generation from Arizona to market at last month’s Opening Transmission Constraints for Solar Development Locally and in the West workshop.
At the June 17 workshop, attendees learned about:
- Opportunities in the Department of Energy’s Solar Technologies Program
- Western’s unique borrowing authority for transmission infrastructure granted in the Recovery Act
- Transmission opportunities that are developing that could benefit solar development
- Large-scale solar developer perspectives
Participants also engaged in an open dialogue about next steps.
“This is the first of its kind for this region,” said Western’s Desert Southwest Federal Power Program Manager Debby Emler. “Previously, we waited for something to happen or someone to come to us, and we would react to the situation. Now, Western is in a more proactive stance. We’re looking for ways to provide the West with renewable resources, as well as finding ways to tie the developers with the utilities. This workshop did just that.”
“Together the renewable program in the West will grow,” said Emler. “Apart, it would be like the ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario; who comes first? Is the transmission built first in hopes that the developer then builds the solar project? Or does the developer build their resource in hopes that they will be able to connect to the electric grid. Without each other, nothing happens.”
All in all, it was a good start to the discussion. Mike Gazda from Arizona Power Authority agreed, saying, “It’s a good start. We just have to keep the ball rolling, keep the discussions flowing.”
See the Renewables Partnership website for more information about the presentations given at the workshop.