New England’s Largest Battery Project Aids Grid Stabilization

Lisa Markowski, ERS, for Zondits

New England’s largest state is also home to its largest battery storage project, which began operation in December 2016 at the Wyman Energy Center in Yarmouth, Maine. This supersized battery, which consists of eight individual battery units (each the size of a freight container), holds a total of 1,300 lithium ion modules, which were installed by NextEra Energy Resources, the plant’s principal owner. Whereas batteries are most commonly used to store energy generated by renewable sources, this battery instead serves to balance power across the grid.

The setup allows the grid operator, ISO-New England, to more quickly and cost-effectively adjust the power supply to meet demand than they can with large, gas-fueled power plants. This efficient stabilization of power flow can also potentially lower customers’ bills. Wyman Station was chosen because it had the space needed for a large-scale battery and the existing direct connection to major transmission lines. The oil-burning facility is situated in Casco Bay on Cousins Island, which is connected to mainland Yarmouth by a bridge. As a peaking plant, it is called on only at times of especially high demand, such as during heat waves, to supplement the large, natural gas-fueled power plants that supply most of the grid’s power. NextEra, a Fortune 200 company, has wind- and solar-connected battery projects operating in several other states and hopes to establish wind farms in inland Maine.

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Yarmouth power plant installs giant battery in first project of its kind in New England

Press Herald, December 17, 2016

New England’s largest battery project – the size of eight shipping containers – is set to begin operating in the next week or so at the Wyman Station power plant in Yarmouth.

The project is part of an industry-wide trend to use battery storage to moderate power supply to the grid, potentially lowering electricity prices for consumers. In other instances, including potential projects in Maine, batteries can store the intermittent power generated by wind and solar, which are affected by the weather.

NextEra Energy Resources, Wyman Station’s lead owner and operator, has installed 1,300 lithium ion modules – a giant lithium battery – in a warehouse at the oil-fired power plant. The project is designed to offer the region’s grid operator, ISO-New England, a more cost-effective way of handling the daily changes in supply and demand than calling for electricity from large gas-fired power plants.

NextEra is among the world’s largest renewable energy companies. Last year, it announced plans to invest $100 million in energy-storage systems to back up its fleet of solar and wind energy plants. Those could eventually include wind farms in western Maine.

NextEra has filed intentions with ISO-New England to install battery units at two wind farms it wants to build near Eustis in Franklin County. Documents filed by NextEra show it wants onsite batteries to suck up excess power when the wind is blowing, and discharge it when demand peaks and the cost of energy is high, such as on a cold, winter afternoon.

NextEra already operates similar battery storage projects next to wind farms in Pennsylvania and Illinois, a decommissioned wind farm in Pennsylvania and near a solar array in New Jersey.

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