U.S. natural gas processing and transmission firm Williams is looking to develop solar installations on land it owns close to its existing facilities in order to paower its operations with electricity from solar energy.
Williams owns and operates more than 30,000 miles of pipelines system and handles around 30 percent of the natural gas in the United States.
Williams’ plan is made possible by the generous federal and state tax credits, the company said in a statement, noting that these solar power installations are expected to be placed into service beginning in late 2021.
Williams is considering various sites for the installations, and has initially identified locations in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Colorado will be the first state in which Williams will consider locations for solar installations, company spokesman Tom Droege told The Denver Post. Williams will be picking from around a dozen locations in western Colorado and the Denver-Julesburg Basin on the northern Front Range, and a decision could be made as early as by June, Droege said.
“Given the current market structures and tax incentives, we are able to make these attractive incremental investments while continuing to enjoy the reliability that the grid provides via natural gas fired power generation,” Alan Armstrong, Williams President and CEO, said in a statement.
The declining cost of solar technology and available tax credits makes solar cost competitive to traditional combined cycle power generation, Williams said about its solar initiative, adding that the capacity of each farm will range from 1 megawatt to 40 megawatts, depending on the energy needs of the facility.
Williams is not the first firm from the oil and gas industry to consider using renewable energy to power its oil and gas operations. Exploration and production companies in the Permian, for example, contracted over the past years wind and solar power to help meet growing electricity demand for oil and gas drilling. ExxonMobil entered into two power purchase agreements (PPAs), under which the U.S. major will buy 500 MW of solar and wind power from the U.S. unit of Denmark’s Ørsted in the Permian, Ørsted said in November 2018.