State pursues new smart grid projects to capture, store more solar and wind power

July 8, 2014

Story 

Funds connect federal, state, utility, industry and R&D resources to advance electric energy storage

MUKILTEO, WA – Washington is known for its leading-edge efforts in developing affordable, renewable energy. But expanding use of wind and solar sources will require new smart grid technologies that allow utilities to efficiently capture, store and distribute that energy.

That’s why today Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce announced more than $14 million in smart grid matching grants from Inslee’s Clean Energy Fund to help Avista Corp., Puget Sound Energy and Snohomish PUD better integrate power generated from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar in the state’s electrical grid.

“This is about storing solar energy to power our lights even on cloudy days,” Inslee said. “We’re using our Clean Energy Fund to position Washington state as a leader in energy storage and work with utilities to develop technologies and strategies that will move the market for renewables forward. Delivering operational value for our utilities is crucial if we’re going to successfully develop and deploy clean energy technologies that save energy and reduce energy costs, reduce carbon emissions and increase our energy independence.”

The utility-led projects will develop and validate “use cases” combining energy storage and information technology solutions. The goal is to promote widespread deployment of these technologies and create a power grid that is more efficient, flexible, resilient, greener from generation to consumer and better able to withstand the consequences of climate change.

Developing a new state program to support renewable energy and energy efficiency technology innovation in the public and private sectors is a key directive in Inslee’s Climate Executive Order. The governor’s Clean Energy Fund received $40 million from the Legislature to expand Washington’s clean energy economy. 

The total cost for the three smart grid demonstration projects is $35.3 million, including more than $21 million in non-state funds.

“Today’s investment in the exciting possibilities of battery storage technology represents a significant step forward in creating our energy future,” said Avista Vice President of Energy Delivery Don Kopczynski. “The batteries we’ll test will store power when the wind blows and distribute it when we need it, regardless of weather conditions. We can tap into battery storage power almost instantaneously, which provides flexibility to quickly react to a sudden drop in energy supply or increase in demand. This rapid response time can help manage fluctuations that have made it challenging to integrate renewable energy onto the grid — until now. We look forward to validating if battery storage technology could be the missing piece to this puzzle.”

“PSE is the Pacific Northwest’s largest owner and operator of wind power. We know from experience that storage is critical, and we applaud the state for making this investment,” said Kimberly Harris, president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy.

“With strong public-private partnerships and funding support from the state, we’ve been able to significantly ramp up our efforts to develop standardized and scalable energy storage systems,” said Steve Klein, CEO of Snohomish County PUD. “It’s our goal to transform the marketplace and make energy storage economically and operationally viable within the energy industry.”

“Washington state is home to a vibrant ecosystem of forward-thinking utilities, emerging technology companies and research institutions required to drive the grid-scale storage industry forward,” said state Department of Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Our state’s Clean Energy Fund investments are helping galvanize the broad public-private collaboration necessary to deliver long-term value for taxpayers and for the customers who rely on utilities to deliver cleaner, more efficient and reliable power from renewable energy sources.“

To support these projects, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have worked with Commerce, the utilities, technology companies and university researchers to develop descriptions of the ways that energy storage can increase renewable energy use and improve grid efficiency and resilience. The utilities will consult these descriptions, called use cases, as they implement their individual projects.

PNNL is also expected to provide analytical and technical support for the projects. PNNL will conduct benefits analysis, and compile field data needed for use cases that will help utilities and regulators nation-wide understand the long-term benefits of new technologies.

Researchers will also design plans for acceptance testing and strengthen control strategies so utilities and grid operators can efficiently deploy energy storage. PNNL will collaborate with Washington State University to develop a control system for one of the project’s batteries and work with the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute to educate stakeholders on project benefits.

“I congratulate Gov. Inslee for his leadership in expanding the use of energy storage in Washington State to help support the integration of renewable energy onto the electric grid,” said Patricia Hoffman, assistant secretary for the  Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “As economic and personal losses from electricity outages due to severe weather mount each year, improving resiliency has taken on an increasing degree of urgency. We will continue working closely with our public and private partners to help communities be better prepared for climate change and keep the nation moving toward a more resilient, efficient and secure energy infrastructure.”

Clean Energy Fund Smart Grid Grants

Snohomish County PUD: $7.3 million

Benefits                       (1) Battery energy storage system. 1.0 MW/0.50 MWh lithium-ion batteries, two Parker PCS assemblies and 1Energy integration software. (2) UET 2 MW/6.4 MWh Vanadium Flow battery system installed with 1Energy software.

Use Cases                    (1) Energy shifting; (2) Provide grid flexibility; (3) Improve distribution systems efficiency; and (4) Optimal utilization of energy storage.

Puget Sound Energy: $3.8 million

Benefits                       Single battery energy storage system. BYD 2 MW/4.4 MWh lithium iron phosphate battery.

Use Cases                    (1) Energy shifting; (2) Provide grid flexibility; (3) Improve distribution systems efficiency; (4) Outage management of critical loads; and (5) Optimal utilization of energy storage.

Avista Corporation: $3.2 million

Benefits                       UET 1.0 MW/3.2 MWh Vanadium Flow battery

Use Cases                    (1) Energy shifting; (2) Provide grid flexibility; (3) Improve distribution systems efficiency; (4) enhanced voltage control; (5) Grid-connected and islanded micro-grid operations; and (6) Optimal utilization of energy storage.

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Media Contact 

Office of the Governor
Jaime Smith
360-902-0617