Instead of whining about the federal government as politicians in WV have been doing, people and businesses in VT are using help from the US Dept. of Energy to create one of the first utility scale microgrids based entirely on renewable power. Green Mountain Power and other business partners are building a 2.5 MW solar array connected to a 4 KW battery storage system consisting of both lead acid and lithium ion batteries.
Green Mountain Power has set a goal of making Rutland, VT the solar capital of New England and this project, which is also being developed on a brownfield site thereby revitalizing a depressed area, will help it meet that goal.
“This project is a national model for the future of clean energy – combining solar with energy storage,” said Dr. Imre Gyuk (pictured in hat at podium), Energy Storage Program Manager in the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery. “This project provides resilient power during emergencies while benefiting the grid at other times. The technical innovations will reduce cost and make the project commercially viable…. This is the perfect project! It has social value, technical innovation, and furthers renewable integration for the grid.”
And rate payers will not be burdened with paying the the system, because it will largely pay for itself.
Gyuk said the the cost recovery for this project will come largely through services to the grid. “During non-emergency periods, [the energy storage] is simply there to make the grid smoother,” he said. Gyuk is particularly interested in how utilities will value grid resiliency and said that this project will help further that discussion. “Emergency services are more difficult to monitize,” he explained.
In terms of the value of energy storage, “frequency regulation has now become a commerially viable business,” said Gyuk. This isn’t only because it has been demonstrated to work technically but also because FERC realized the value of doing it fast and with clean energy, he said. Gyuk estimates that frequency regulation with energy storage is valued a roughly twice what frequency regulation is when it’s done with fossil fuels.
The energy storage component of this project is co-funded by a federal-state-NGO partnership involving the State of Vermont; the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity; and the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP), a project managed by Clean Energy States Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories.