Washington Utilities Net Grants To Explore Energy Storage, Renewables Integration


Three Washington utilities have been awarded $14.3 million in matching grants from the state's Clean Energy Fund to lead energy storage projects with ties to federally funded research at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).

‘We're using our Clean Energy Fund to position Washington state as a leader in energy storage and work with utilities to develop technologies and strategies that will move the market for renewables forward,’ says Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. ‘Delivering operational value for our utilities is crucial if we're going to successfully develop and deploy clean energy technologies that save energy and reduce energy costs, reduce carbon emissions and increase our energy independence.’

Inslee and the state Department of Commerce announced the grants at the Mukilteo, Wash., facility of UniEnergy Technologies (UET), which has licensed PNNL battery technology. The PNNL says it developed the technology with six years of funding from the DOE, and two of the winning utilities will install UET's all-vanadium redox flow batteries as part of their projects.

According to the PNNL, the three utility-led projects include the following:

– Spokane-based Avista Utilities received $3.2 million. Its project includes installing a UET flow battery in Pullman, Wash., to support Washington State University's (WSU) smart campus operations. The PNNL will collaborate with WSU to develop a control strategy for this project. Avista is participating in the Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project and previously received a DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant.

"We can tap into battery storage power almost instantaneously, which provides flexibility to quickly react to a sudden drop in energy supply or increase in demand," explains Don Kopczynski, Avista's vice president of energy delivery." This rapid response time can help manage fluctuations that have made it challenging to integrate renewable energy onto the grid – until now. We look forward to validating if battery storage technology could be the missing piece to this puzzle."

– Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) received $3.8 million. Its project includes installing a lithium-ion battery. As part of a previous project that was jointly funded by the utility, the Bonneville Power Administration, Primus Power and the DOE, the PNNL analyzed the costs and benefits associated with installing energy storage at various sites within PSE's service territory.

– Everett-based Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) was awarded $7.3 million. Its project includes installing a UET flow battery and a lithium-ion battery. This project builds on experience gained, as well as the equipment and technologies installed, with a DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant.

According to the PNNL, results from these Washington-based demonstrations are expected to contribute to national energy storage efforts.

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