Energy Northwest on Oct. 25 committed to building an energy storage system as part of a 5-megawatt, combined solar generation and battery storage facility in Richland, Wash.
The decision by the Energy Northwest board of directors marks the final step for the agency’s full project participation.
Energy Northwest is a public power joint action agency based in Richland, Washington.
In partnership with Potelco, based in Sumner, Wash., the agency plans to break ground on the Horn Rapids Solar, Storage & Training Project during the fall of 2019, with commercial operation of the combined facility in 2020, Energy Northwest said in a news release.
“The project will help the city of Richland meet upcoming state requirements for renewable generation,” noted Clint Gerkensmeyer, project manager for Energy Services & Development at Energy Northwest. He said the project will demonstrate that the combination of renewable electricity generation and storage technology is an economically viable option for state utilities.
Along with providing electricity generation and storage, the facility will serve as a training ground for solar and battery storage technicians. Hundreds of workers from throughout the country are expected to train each year, Energy Northwest said.
The $6 1/2 million storage project received a $3 million assist, in 2017, from the state’s Clean Energy Fund, managed by the Washington State Department of Commerce.
“This will be the first development to integrate both solar and battery storage into our state’s clean mix of hydro, nuclear and wind generation,” said Terry Brewer, president of the Energy Northwest board of directors and commissioner for Washington state’s Grant County Public Utility District.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 77, which owns the development land, and the Regional Education & Training Center, which leases it, have worked with Energy Northwest and Potelco since 2015 to help take the project from concept to development, Energy Northwest noted. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory provided business and technology consultation throughout the process.
Potelco will finance and construct the 4-megawatt, 20-acre solar generating array of photovoltaic panels, while Energy Northwest will build, own and operate the 1-MW battery storage system, which will be capable of powering 150 homes for four hours.
In addition to providing energy directly to Richland’s power distribution system, excess electricity from the solar panels will be stored by the battery system for later use.
The project will offer a unique research opportunity for local energy scientists, Energy Northwest said. Working together, PNNL and the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute will monitor and analyze data from the project to develop improved battery designs and advanced tools for forecasting load, price, and solar in-feed.
Horn Rapids will be Energy Northwest’s first generation project since expansion of the Nine Canyon Wind Project in 2007.
Snohomish PUD also pursuing storage
Another public power entity in Washington State, Snohomish County PUD, has also pursued energy storage.
In early 2017, Snohomish dedicated its second energy storage system, which was installed at a substation in Everett, Wash.