April 2, 2015: Today Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Maria Cantwell and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers were in Pullman to energize and dedicate Avista’s Energy Storage Project. With a flip of a switch, Avista’s energy storage system goes online to the electrical grid. The event marks a significant milestone as Avista begins testing its new battery storage system using batteries manufactured by UniEnergy Technologies in a real-world setting at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
Avista’s Energy Storage Project is part of Avista’s investment into research that will improve power system reliability by addressing one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry – how to integrate power generated from intermittent renewable sources such as wind and solar into the electrical grid.
Starting today, the 1 MW, 3.2 MWh large-scale battery system is now connected to the electric grid. It will store power generated by renewable sources when it’s abundant, for example when the wind is blowing, and distribute energy when it’s needed, regardless of weather patterns.
The $7 million project is funded by a $3.2 million grant from Governor Inslee and the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Clean Energy Fund and another $3.8 million in Avista matching funds.
“Avista is an invaluable partner in our efforts to design, demonstrate and deploy new clean energy technologies here in Washington state that hold so much promise for revolutionizing our nation’s power grid,” Gov. Inslee said. “The eyes of the industry are on us. The data and analysis that PNNL will produce from these projects will advance grid-scale energy storage applications everywhere. I am extremely proud of the joint public and private commitments that are making this leadership role possible.”
Representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, Avista, UniEnergy Technologies and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, along with WSU President Elson Floyd and others also joined today’s celebration.
“Avista is proud to be on the leading-edge of important research that could have a tremendous impact on our energy future,” said Avista’s Director of Engineering and Grid Innovation Heather Rosentrater. “As we begin operating our Energy Storage Project, over the next 18 months we’ll test the large-scale system in seven different scenarios. One of those scenarios includes using battery storage in a real-world setting to provide back-up power in case of a power outage for manufacturing facilities at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories where reliability is critical to their operations.”
Power from battery storage is available almost instantaneously, which provides the flexibility to quickly react to a sudden drop in power supply or increase in demand.
“We all expect reliable energy that’s there when we need it. But with renewable energy, that’s not always possible if the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining – until now. We believe battery storage could be the missing piece in this puzzle. And that’s exciting!” Rosentrater added.
Equally exciting is the potential impact to the region’s economy. The batteries are manufactured by Washington-based UniEnergy Technologies (UET). The core of the UET system is an advanced vanadium flow battery, which was developed from Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) technology.
"Avista's Energy Storage Project highlights the strength of Washington's innovation economy," Senator Cantwell said. "This technology will enhance our 21st energy infrastructure as we rely increasingly on solar and wind power. I have long supported smart grid technology and today we take a concrete step towards a more integrated and efficient electrical grid."
“The Pacific Northwest is at the center of a 21st-century energy revolution, largely thanks to technological innovations that have allowed us to tap into new energy opportunities. I can think of no project that exemplifies that spirit of growth more than Avista’s cutting-edge Energy Storage Project. I’m proud to see this collaborative project take shape in Pullman, where the energy sector has created jobs, reduced energy bills, and grown our local economy from the ground up. As Co-Chair of the Northwest Energy Caucus, it’s an honor to celebrate the Energy Storage Project and the impact it will have on Washington state’s 21st-century energy revolution,” said Congresswoman McMorris Rogers.
Over the past several years, Avista has invested more than $80 million of combined Avista and federal matching funds to improve reliability, reduce losses and automate activities that have traditionally been performed manually. Avista customers are experiencing fewer and shorter power outages as a result of these investments.
Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. Avista Utilities is our operating division that provides electric service to 370,000 customers and natural gas to 330,000 customers. Its service territory covers 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of southern and eastern Oregon, with a population of 1.6 million. Alaska Energy and Resources Company is an Avista subsidiary that provides retail electric service in the city and borough of Juneau, Alaska, through its subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company. Avista stock is traded under the ticker symbol "AVA." For more information about Avista, please visit www.avistacorp.com.
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SOURCE: Avista Corporation.