By Luci Scott for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
APS has hired Black & Veatch to build a $700M upgrade of the utility’s Ocotillo power plant in Tempe.
Project management is being handled out of Black & Veatch’s Kansas City office.
At the power plant, two existing gas generators from the 1960s will be torn down and replaced with five cleaner-running, more efficient units.
The demolition aspect of the project will begin as soon as APS receives permits from Tempe and air-quality permits from Maricopa County, which are expected this summer, said APS spokesman Steven Gotfried. Target date for completion is 2018.
There are currently four units at the power plant, and two will remain because they are newer.
“We know the emission rates for carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide will decrease” once the new units are operational, Gotfried said.
Water usage is expected to decrease as well, from the current 205 gallons per megawatt hour; the new units will each use 140 gallons per megawatt hour.
The new units will be half as tall as the existing ones, which are 178 feet tall.
APS owns 125 acres at the site, which also includes a service center and solar panels. The utility now pays $600K in property taxes on the site, and those will increase, Gotfried said.
“We expect total property taxes will increase to $8M by the fifth year of operation,” Gotfried said. He expects that the construction will require an average of 114 jobs
He added that the upgraded plant will allow APS to maintain reliable electric service in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
“Another important point,” he said, “is that these new units will be able to turn on and off quickly, where the 1960s versions can’t.”
The solar panels work only when the sun is shining, so when it begins to rain, APS has to make up that power somewhere else.
Once the utility turns its new units on, they will immediately begin to start generating electricity; the old units take six hours to turn on, he said.
“With the new units, we’ll have power on demand,” he said.