California utility kicks off energy storage plan with grant

The grant will match a $29.9 million funding pool collected by the utility and its partners, including a $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission. The project’s total cost is at $54.9 million.

“This grant will help [Southern California Edison], our partners and the electric utility industry better understand the optimal use of large-scale batteries in grid operations,” said Jim Kelly, senior vice president of the utility’s transmission and distribution division.

Energy storage is a fairly nascent industry that is regarded as the key to making volatile renewable energy more feasible for wider use. Batteries and other energy storage solutions have the potential to ease grid stress by mitigating the unpredictable impact of changing wind patterns and strengths to energy production.

Southern California Edison plans to deploy the project at a substation that serves the Tehachapi area, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. The battery system will be installed in early 2012, while testing will be done through the end of 2014. Results of the tests will be available by early 2015.

With the battery in place, the utility expects to increase the integration of wind-generated electricity into the existing power grid to help California meet its ambitious 33 percent renewable portfolio standard.

Furthermore, the project will also serve as an important case study for Southern California Edison and the Energy Department to evaluate potential storage solutions and grid requirements that will turn distribution systems into smarter grids.
Southern California Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE:
), has enlisted the aid of battery manufacturer A123 Systems (Nasdaq:
) and the California Independent System Operator Corporation for its Tehachapi wind energy storage project.

Additionally, Quanta Technology and the California State Polytechnic University will offer engineering support and measurement and reporting services for the project.

“We expect that the ability to dynamically manage the grid through large scale advanced lithium-ion battery systems will be a necessary innovation to realize the promise of a smarter, cleaner energy grid,” said Robert Johnson, vice president of the energy solutions group at A123 System.



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