SRP outlines their hydropower investments, plans to expand capacity

Oct 25, 2023, 4:35 AM

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PHOENIX — Water has been a difficult topic in Arizona for years and in some cases it can be hard to come by. However, hydropower remains an important part of the state’s clean energy infrastructure.

Russell Genet, a manager in Hydro Generation at Salt River Project (SRP), explained how they utilize hydropower.

“SRP currently operates seven hydropower sites across Arizona,” Genet told KTAR News. “We can produce of 250 megawatts of carbon-free energy, powering more than 60,000 homes.”

The wet winter didn’t hurt their efforts, either.

“We were lucky when it came to the last season. … We had record-breaking snowpack and rainfall during the winter months,” he said. “It ended up filling Roosevelt Dam past 100%.”

Uncertainties surrounding Arizona’s water mean that hydropower will always be part of a larger energy portfolio. Still, it plays an interesting role.

“Essentially, as we continue to add solar power to our system, pumped hydro acts as a long-term energy storage, kind of like a battery,” Genet said. “It complements SRP’s expanding renewable energy portfolio.”

Genet explained how the process works.

“When we have excess power on the grid, we reverse the generators and turn them into pumps, and that allows us to take water from the lower reservoir and move it up,” he said. “When we need that power, we just let it down.”

SRP continues to look for ways to improve their hydropower operations, including a partnership with Arizona State University on several new projects to better maintain generation stations and their massive turbines. They’re also working on expanding their hydro capabilities.

“One of the big ones coming up is the Salt River Pump Storage Project,” Genet said. “This new site could potentially generate up to 2,000 megawatts. That’s enough to power over 400,000 homes for 10 hours each pump-back cycle.”

That project is expected to be up and running by 2033.

“We’re always looking 10-, 15-, 20-years down the road,” Genet added. “Not only to supply water but also electricity to the Valley.”

With projects like that in the works, hydropower’s presence in Arizona will only continue to grow.

“It’s an exciting time for SRP and the communities that we serve,” Genet said. “We’re really looking to expand affordable, sustainable and reliable energy.”

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SRP outlines their hydropower investments, plans to expand capacity