Imperial Irrigation District brings 33-MW battery storage system online

California once again showed its leadership in integrating battery storage into the electricity grid last month, when Imperial Irrigation District You are leaving (IID) commissioned one of the largest battery energy storage systems (BESS) in the North America.

Imperial Irrigation District built a new substation to accommodate the battery energy storage system near its El Centro gas generating plant
Imperial Irrigation District built a new substation to accommodate the battery energy storage system near its El Centro gas generating plant. (Photo by Imperial Irrigation District)

Representatives from IID joined Coachella Energy Storage Partners (CESP), electric industry leaders and local and state officials, Oct. 26, to launch the 33-megawatt (MW), 20-megawatt-hour (MWh) system. IID installed the lithium-ion BESS to increase reliability while integrating renewable energy resources into the local grid. The storage system allows the utility to balance power, arrest frequency decay, provide spinning reserve, mitigate large fluctuations of energy, increase voltage stability and deliver “black start” power restoration capabilities for the nearby El Centro gas generation plant. A black start is the process of restoring an electric power station or a part of an electric grid to operation without relying on the external transmission network.

Integration poses challenges
The dedication ceremony was the culmination of more than three years of assessment and planning.

Like many utilities, IID is feeling the pressure of increasing amounts of renewables on its electric system. Those pressures are likely to grow as the state pushes toward its goal of a 50-percent renewable energy supply by 2030, especially since IID is located in such a resource-rich area. IID’s grid already carries 900 MW of clean energy—mostly geothermal and solar—with another 1,200 MW of new generation seeking to interconnect to its system.

“Specifically, the integration of solar generation was affecting our balancing authority, and our control performance standard began to suffer,” said Jesse Montaño, IID manager of planning and engineering.

Battery storage was a cost-effective solution to address ramp, regulation, capacity, ancillary services, system reliability and power quality. It is also environmentally friendly because smoothing the power supply and providing a spinning reserve are functions usually performed by expensive fossil fuel generation.

Putting pieces in place
After settling on the appropriate battery storage solution, IID issued a bond and drew on its capital spending budget to finance the $38 million project.

CESP won the district’s solicitation for 20 to 40 MW of grid-scale energy storage, beating out eight other vendors in the final round to serve as general contractor for the project. The company chose the energy project management company ZGlobal Inc. You are leaving to oversee construction and General Electric to build the system.

GE supplied a comprehensive package which includes the lithium-ion battery with its inverters, plant controls, transformers and medium-voltage switchgear in a single enclosure. This is one of GE’s largest energy storage projects to date and one of its few lithium-ion storage projects. The company recently rebooted its lithium-ion battery business and also won a contract in April for an 8-MWh battery energy storage system for Con Edison Development You are leaving in Central Valley, California.

Now playing
Construction took about one year to complete, demonstrating that a storage battery can be sited and deployed relatively easily. However, every system is different and poses its own challenges to integration. “The BESS replaces some of our need for spinning reserves, but it was continually reacting to mitigate the slow ramping capabilities of IID’s generation fleet,” said Montaño. “We had to adjust reaction parameters on the BESS in order to economically and reliably balance the system.”

Testing followed so that when the BESS came online in October, it was ready to provide benefits to IID and its customers. On top of the operational benefits of increasing reliability and bringing more flexibility to the utility’s system, the BESS offers economic advantages, as well. It enables load shifting that reduces the need for expensive spinning reserves and is expected to result in significant cost savings to rate payers over the life of the project.

Every utility has a different power mix and different load, so battery storage must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But IID’s project illustrates many of the technology’s potential benefits and should give power providers elsewhere in the country much to think about.

Source: Public Power Daily, 10/31/16

Blackouts looming, California speeds battery deployment after Aliso Canyon gas leak

A recent article in Utility Dive You are leaving explores the steps California is taking to mitigate the repercussions of the massive Aliso Canyon methane leak in the Los Angeles Basin last October.

Aliso Canyon is a repurposed oil field north of the San Fernando Valley that can store up to 86 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas to distribute to homes, businesses and power plants. It took owner Southern California Gas four months to plug the leak, leaving only 15 bcf of gas in the field, and now there is a moratorium on further drilling. The loss of the ability and capacity to store gas, as well as the stored gas itself, has created reliability concerns for both gas and electric customers.

Before the natural gas leak last fall, the Aliso Canyon Gas Fields in Southern California could store up to 86 billion cubic feet of gas. The loss of the facility threatens to affect reliability in the region.
Before the natural gas leak last fall, the Aliso Canyon Gas Fields in Southern California could store up to 86 billion cubic feet of gas. The loss of the facility threatens to affect reliability in the region. (Photo by California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services)

The California’s Public Utilities Commission You are leaving (PUC) issued a directive in May, freeing up utility funds that could be used to increase energy-efficiency programs. The state’s action plan includes asking electric customers to reduce consumption, expanding demand response programs and calling for revised tariffs to encourage gas shippers to more tightly match supply and demand, thus reducing the need for storage.

Bringing storage online
Fast-tracking plans to build energy storage may be the most intriguing measure state agencies are pursuing to prevent possible service interruptions. In May, the PUC began the process for an expedited procurement solicitation for energy storage that could be in service Dec. 31, 2016.

At the time, San Diego Gas and Electric was already far along on a request for offers to fill its 2016 Preferred Resource Local Capacity Requirement You are leaving The PUC modified its original resolution, which did not mention SDG&E, to help the utility to find projects that could come online by the December deadline.

In the end, SDG&E selected a 30-megawatt (MW), 120-megawatt-hour (MWh) project in Escondido, and a 7.5-MW, 30-MWh project in El Cajon. The locations were chosen to alleviate electric reliability concerns associated with Aliso Canyon.

AES Energy Storage will build both utility-owned projects, and has a long-term service contract with SDG&E covering the first 10 years of operation, to begin before Jan. 31, 2017. The projects will bid into the California ISO market.

The article is long, but is well worth your time to read. If successful, the Aliso Canyon Energy Storage Project would demonstrate a number of aspects of energy storage that utilities elsewhere might apply in their own regions. The circumstances that made the projects possible are specific to California, but utilities should be aware that energy storage offers them another potential tool for delivering reliable service.

Source: Utility Dive, 8/11/16

Free report looks at resource adequacy, reliability

Utilities may be comfortable in the knowledge that current capacity reserve levels in North America are more than sufficient to meet demand. However, aging infrastructure and re-licensing generation units, along with new stresses on the grid from intermittent renewable resources and market pressures, could turn resource adequacy into the next hot topic. Resource Adequacy and the Cost of Reliability, a new report from EcoAlign Marketing, frames the issue as one of the most critical facing the electricity industry.

This is the fifth report  in the Series of Regulatory Choices published by Distributed Energy Financial Group LLC, EcoAlign’s parent company. The report calls for a new look at resource adequacy, and for a fuller understanding of opportunity costs. The traditional approach to resource adequacy and system reliability has provided the nation with high reliability at reasonable cost—but those choices were made a generation ago. The study concludes that there is a short window to make good policy choices pertaining to resource adequacy, and that all types of demand-side resources must be actively considered to complement traditional approaches.

Visitors can download the report at no charge. DEFG and EcoAlign welcomes comments on the report from utilities.