An upcoming update of a power plant in Tempe by APS is expected to provide benefits ranging from new construction jobs to an improvement in the neighborhood aesthetics.
The project will modernize the Ocotillo Power Plant by removing two power units built in the 1960s and replacing them with five modern units, as well as the removal of three oil storage tanks on the property.
Information sent by APS states the project will cost $700 million to complete and will require the addition of more than 100 construction positions. The project is expected to last for two years, with a completion date set for 2018.
Once completed, APS estimates Ocotillo’s megawatt capacity to increase from 330 to 620, which also increases the number of homes it can serve from 83,000 to 165,000. The company does expect the current noise level to remain the same.
Expectations also include an increase in property tax revenue for Tempe, Maricopa County and the state from $600,000 to $8 million by 2023.
APS Director of Resource Planning Jim Wilde said the need to replace the two older units, which will continue to run until the project’s completion, stems from the age of the current models; he said it’s becoming more difficult to maintain them because they are in the neighborhood of 50 years old. Plus, the current models aren’t as efficient as the ones the company intends to replace them with. The new ones will use 85 percent less water than the current ones, and can start up within five minutes; the current models take six hours to get on the electric grid.
Wilde said the benefits extends beyond efficiency and encompass multiple sources of energy as well. He said the company already incorporates multiple forms of energy – he cited solar in particular – but the revamped Ocotillo plant can modernize APS’ natural gas facilities.
“You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket,” he said.
For those living in that part of Tempe — near University Drive between McClintock Drive and Rural Road and one mile east of the Arizona State University campus — the completion of the renovation should result in a better connection to the power source, and, most notably, a more sight-friendly area. The latter stems from the size of the units, as the new models are significantly smaller than the ones in place.
“The new units are half as tall as the old units, so the site’s footprint will be much, much better from a visual aspect,” he said.
Visit http://www.azenergyfuture.com/ocotillo/ for more information about the project.