Energy storage is crucial to the whole renewables effort. After all, wind and solar are intermittent, and ways have to be found to economically save the power for later use.
That's where two projects come in. In the first, Colorado-based Ice Energy has received $ 24 million in investment financing to support its deployment of utility-scale energy-storage projects, including a 53-megawatt project under way with the Southern California Public Power Authority, which includes 12 entities, including Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and municipal utilities in Anaheim, Riverside, Burbank and Glendale.
The joint powers authority delivers electricity to 2 million customers over an area of 7,000 square miles.
In the other, Southern California Edison announced an agreement with the US Department of Energy for a $ 25 million stimulus grant to develop and conduct a comprehensive demonstration of lithium-ion battery storage for energy generated by wind projects.
The DOE funding is one of 32 stimulus grants awarded late last year to demonstrate advanced Smart Grid technologies and integrated systems under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
SCE will use the funds to integrate wind-powered generation from the Tehachapi region in Southern California into the electric grid to help the state meet its ambitious renewable energy goals.
The $ 25 million DOE grant matches funds totaling $ 30 million provided by SCE and its partners, including a $ 1 million grant from the California Energy Commission, resulting in a total project cost of almost $ 60 million.
Meanwhile, the Ice Energy project would help reduce peak energy demand in California by shifting up to 40% to off-peak periods, which improves the reliability of the power grid. That leads to lower daytime energy consumption, increased efficiency, lower bills and a smaller environmental footprint.
"By using storage to change how – and more importantly when – energy is consumed by air conditioning, we can offset enough peak demand … to serve the equivalent of 10,000 homes," said Bill Carnahan, executive director of the power authority.
Ice Energy's system stores energy at thousands of locations and uses Smart Grid technology to intelligently dispatch the energy during peak periods. The $ 24 million provides the company with working and capital growth. The money came from several investment groups.
Not to be outdone are two utilities in Hawaii, which received a total of $ 2.1 million in federal stimulus money for energy-storage programs. $ 1.2 million is going to Maui Electric Co. and $ 900,000 is earmarked for Hawaii Electric Light Co.