Since the creation of electricity markets over twenty years ago, competitive power suppliers have driven progress for energy customers and the environment. From building exciting new generation resources to uplifting communities, EPSA member companies continue to lead the energy transition. In our first Competitive Power Spotlight, CPV’s new solar project transforms a coal mine to generate 100 MW of renewable power and offset more than 100,000 tons of CO2 per year.
What cutting-edge technologies are being deployed thanks to competitive energy policies? What goes into building a successful project in a competitive power market environment – and how are consumers, the grid and the environment benefitting now and for years to come?
Our nation’s energy landscape is changing rapidly with exciting new potential for cleaner, more reliable and affordable power. Because competitive power suppliers follow market signals to improve operations and efficiency, as well as to decide when to retire older power generation technology and invest in newer, more cost-effective and cleaner approaches, EPSA member companies are uniquely positioned to lead investment in new technology and innovative solutions to electricity generation.
One company driving the energy transition is Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), and its Maple Hill Solar facility is the perfect example. The 100-MW solar power generation facility in Portage Township, Pennsylvania, is expected to begin generating electricity with 530+ watt solar panels by May 2022. In EPSA’s first Competitive Power Spotlight, you’ll learn how competitive projects like Maple Hill Solar open the doors for a brighter energy future that works for everyone.
Cutting-edge Technology and Innovation
CPV’s Maple Hill Solar project is innovative in not one, but two ways. To start, the project is being constructed on a former coal mine, which creates both economical and environmental benefits.
Originally mined for its coal reserves, the site then served as timber property that has been cleared. Now, the site will move into its next phase of productive use as a solar facility. By repurposing the former fossil fuel site, CPV is transforming what would otherwise go unused into a renewable energy haven that will benefit the surrounding communities for years to come.
In addition, the project will include the latest Photovoltaic (PV) Panel bifacial technology from solar manufacturer Talesun and single axis tracking by solar energy equipment supplier Gamechange. These innovative technologies will collect solar energy from both sides of the panels and will even track the sun’s position to maximize energy production.
Environmental and Economic Benefits
Beyond bringing enough electricity capacity to power 18,000 homes in PJM Interconnection, Maple Hill Solar adds significant environmental and economic benefits to the region. In fact, it is estimated to offset more than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by displacing generation from older, nonrenewable facilities – the equivalent to removing 21,000 cars from the road.
Competitive solar projects like Maple Hill can also contribute to lower wholesale electricity prices. In addition, the project provides a new revenue source to the Township, County, and School District, and employs an estimated 250 skilled workers during peak construction cycle.
Competition: Making Innovative Investments Possible
CPV continues to focus development in areas where competitive markets allow for private capital to be deployed. That means companies like CPV can vie to produce the best products and services, just like virtually every other consumer product in the market. This doesn’t typically occur in vertically integrated markets, because competition doesn’t exist when utilities have monopoly control over both electric generation and distribution.
We break down the differences between vertically integrated and wholesale electricity markets here.
However, today’s markets structures are undergoing an evolution that will continue to foster investments like this. Like EPSA, CPV knows that a price on carbon is needed to allow the PJM market to incentivize more reliable, affordable and cleaner energy. CPV says that gap is being filled through the environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment programs of private companies. Putting a price on carbon and charging all generation sources for the carbon they emit during operations will leverage the power of competition and provide the most efficient and cost-effective path to a lower carbon future.
Discover how competitive policies like carbon pricing or a well-designed CES can reduce emissions while ensuring reliable and least-cost solutions.
Looking to the Future
CPV’s Maple Hill Solar project is just one example of the work the generation company is doing to power the grid of the future.
On Earth Day 2021, CPV announced over 400 MW of new renewable projects utilizing former coal mine locations within the PJM region. These projects in Pennsylvania and Maryland will create lower energy costs and additional tax revenue for the communities that have suffered the most during the energy transition.
CPV continues to invest in natural gas projects across the country, as well. The Three Rivers combined cycle plant in Illinois, a 1,250 MW cutting-edge, efficient natural-gas-fired power plant, will provide the dispatchable power needed to balance renewable expansion while enhancing reliability.
As the needs of the grid evolve, it’s important to remember that policy cannot outpace technological capability – and that reliability must be the number one priority.
See EPSA president and CEO Todd Snitchler’s blog post on why reliability must be the focus for a sound energy transition.
Achieving a zero-carbon future cannot simply be wished into existence. Competitive power suppliers like CPV continue to focus on research and development to transform emerging baseload generation technology into a scalable solution – whether that’s hydrogen, carbon capture or long-term energy storage. And in competitive power markets, operators and investors can respond nimbly to the needs of a changing grid, allowing innovative technologies like that of Maple Hill Solar to come to market.
Stay tuned for more special projects, new acquisitions and community outreach by competitive power suppliers propelling our power grid forward, and learn more about how competition makes it possible.