Gridding Buildings For Storage

A fleet of hybrid-electric buildings is to be developed as a storage resource for Southern California Edison.
Published: Fri 21 Nov 2014

Earlier this month Southern California Edison (SCE) announced a record 261MW purchase of energy storage as part of a larger procurement of resources to meet local reliability needs due to the closure primarily of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. [Engerati-SCE Leads Energy Storage With Record 261MW Purchase]

Among these is an innovative plan by the start-up Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) to develop the first grid-scale fleet of what the company calls ‘hybrid-electric buildings’ in the world. In total, the contracts will provide 50MW of storage.

Hybrid-electric buildings

AMS’s hybrid-electric building project will install advanced energy storage systems in commercial and industrial buildings throughout SCE’s West Los Angeles service territory. With state-of-the-art battery technology and advanced energy management software, the building’s load can be shifted from electric grid to battery power during peak demand periods. By aggregating the individual hybrid-electric buildings into “fleets”, they can then be operated as a single resource, allowing SCE to shift the entire fleet of buildings to stored energy when grid resources are strained.

“Edison is changing the game with this investment in ‘customer-sited’ energy storage,” said Susan Kennedy, co-founder and CEO of AMS. “Equipping a building with the technology to store and manage its own electricity turns that building into a stand-alone storage unit. Combine a dozen buildings into a fleet and you have the utility equivalent of a peaker plant.”

This “dual-use” approach not only provides a clean, cost-effective resource for utilities but also lowers costs for building owners.

Grid resiliency

“Installing storage directly at the load center builds resiliency into the electric grid from the foundation up,” adds AMS co-founder Jackie Pfannenstiel. “Distributed storage provides greater reliability and lower costs to SCE customers while simultaneously providing firm, dispatchable load management to the utility.”

The first 10MW hybrid-electric building project will be installed in Irvine, California and will be completed in Q4 of 2016.

AMS was founded two years ago to develop the use of energy storage systems for electric utility grid support. The company doesn’t develop its own technology but sources the appropriate technology and software for the project in question.

Kennedy is a former chief of staff to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pfannenstiel is former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations & Environment) for President Obama.