Community Engagement
Energy Storage

Public power town marks next step for first utility-scale storage project in Mass.

Officials from the Sterling Municipal Light Department were joined on Oct. 12 by stakeholders from across Massachusetts and New England in a groundbreaking ceremony for what will be the first utility-scale energy storage facility in Massachusetts.

The 2-megawatt, 3.9-megawatt-hour battery storage system will be installed at Sterling's Chocksett Road Substation. Site construction will start in the fall of 2016 and the project is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2016.

The project effectively doubles the installed battery storage capacity in Massachusetts, according to a press release issued by the Clean Energy States Alliance and the Clean Energy Group.

The storage system will be able to island from the grid during a power outage and, with the support of existing solar generation, provide up to 12 days of backup power to the town's police station and dispatch center, a critical facility providing first responder services.
In addition, the town will also save on energy costs over the project's lifespan due to the grid services the batteries will provide, the press release said.

"Energy storage is the next step for our industry," Sean Hamilton, general manager of the Sterling Municipal Light Department, a public power utility, said in the news release.

"DOE is most pleased to help make this very significant project a reality," said Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager in the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. "We hope that Sterling will become an example for other projects in Massachusetts and indeed the entire U.S."

The lessons learned from the project "will be valuable in determining the economics of energy storage in various applications, in addition to helping understand the system metrics that are most important in determining system reliability and safety," said Dan Borneo, principal program/project lead at Sandia National Laboratories.

Todd Olinsky-Paul, project director at the Clean Energy States Alliance, or CESA, said the storage project "demonstrates the many benefits of energy storage technology, including the provision of resilient power to the town's police station, plus it demonstrates the economic case for energy storage."

He said the project "is laying the groundwork for future energy storage projects, and once that economic case is understood, we will see many other communities in New England follow in the footsteps of Sterling."

Hamilton, Gyuk, Borneo and Olinsky-Paul attended the groundbreaking ceremony, along with Doug Alderton of NEC Energy Solutions and Scott Reynolds of Reynolds Engineering, who is the project manager.

Project funding included $1.46 million grant

The project is being led by the Sterling Municipal Light Department, with batteries supplied by NEC Energy Solutions, which is headquartered in Westborough, Mass.

Project funding included a $1.46 million grant from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, with additional financial and technical assistance from the DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, and Sandia National Laboratories.

Additional technical support was provided by CESA through its Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership and by the Clean Energy Group's Resilient Power Project through a grant from the Barr Foundation.

In an interview with the American Public Power Association in June, Hamilton and Matt Stelmach, Sterling Municipal Light Department's chairman of the board, said that they expect the request for proposals that the public power utility issued for the battery storage system will become a template for other utilities to use.

Report says 600 MW of storage possible in Mass.

A report on energy storage, released by the state of Massachusetts on Sept. 16, lays out a roadmap for growing the energy storage market in the state, and says that its recommendations, if adopted, have the potential to yield 600 MW of advanced energy storage technologies to the Massachusetts grid by 2025.

The recommendations include "establishing and clarifying regulatory treatments of storage, grant and rebate programs, integration of storage into state portfolio standards, potential statutory changes for inclusion of storage in long-term clean energy procurements, and recommendations for ISO market rules."