Energy storage is the “next charge” for distributed renewable energy, and the small town of Minster, OH, provides a powerful illustration.
Committed to building a 3-megawatt (AC) solar facility, the village’s energy department (municipal utility) was blindsided by the state legislature in mid-2014. The state’s energy policy had previously favored purchase of solar from in-state resources, but an abrupt change to the state’s solar renewable energy credit market removed this provision, sharply reducing the long-term potential revenue for the Minster solar array.
The village wasn’t put off, but instead decided to see how battery storage could recoup the lost solar credits. A 7-megawatt battery (one of the largest in the country) will allow the village to reduce energy costs by deferring transmission and distribution costs, improving power quality, and shaving peak demand. The contractor, Half Moon Ventures, will also be able to sell “frequency regulation services” into the regional grid system, helping improve overall system reliability. Don Harrod, village administrator, says the “revenue stacking” from the multiple uses of the battery is what makes the project so attractive for the village and the investor.
The solar array came online just weeks ago, and will sharply reduced the town’s need to purchase power from the wholesale market, and Harrod reports that the energy storage facility should be online by mid-March. The solar array is projected to provide about 13% of the village’s total electricity needs on an annual basis, and it provides a similar portion of the village’s peak energy demand of 23 megawatts.
The village isn’t done with solar, either. In the coming weeks, the village council will be discussing a community solar array to allow residents and businesses to buy in.
At just under 3,000 residents, the village of Minster is rather small, but it’s renewable energy and storage project is anything but.
Photo credit: USDA via Flickr (CC BY 2.0 license)