Duke Energy to Invest Over $1Bn in Indiana Grid Modernization; Pilots New Energy Storage System in North Carolina - Smart Energ

Demand Management, Distributed Energy Resources, Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, Utilities  -  March 16, 2016

Duke Energy to invest more than $1B in Indiana grid modernization

Duke Energy, one of the country's largest utilities, will invest $1.4 billion over the next seven years to upgrade the power grid in Indiana that serves more than 800,000 customers. In separate news, the company announced it's testing a hybrid energy storage system in North Carolina that will help smooth intermittent solar power loads.

As part of the investment agreed upon in a recent settlement, Duke will spend $200 million on voltage optimization — a proven, cost-effective technology that enables utilities to operate the electric grid more efficiently — according to reporting by Smart Energy Decisions content partner, the Environmental Defense Fund, or EDF. Voltage optimization is reportedly one of the lowest "low-hanging fruits" a utility can invest in to lower energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.

According to EDF:

Some utilities overpower homes and businesses with more voltage than they need. Voltage optimization technology gives utilities greater visibility of the state of the electric grid. With this information, they can adjust voltage to match the precise electricity needs of customers. People receive the right amount of energy to run their machines and appliances, resulting in energy savings, without having to lift a finger. These energy savings will, in turn, reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout Duke’s territory.

Regarding energy storage, Duke is looking to help integrate more solar into the power grid by testing a first-of-its-kind battery technology at its Rankin Substation in Gaston County, N.C.

"This approach will allow our energy storage systems to do a variety of tasks," Thomas Golden, technology development manager for Duke Energy, said in a statement. "With so many solar installations in North Carolina, we must look for innovative ways to better incorporate renewable energy into our system – and still provide reliable service at a competitive price for our customers."

One of the distribution lines at the substation has a 1.2-MW solar installation connected a mile away. With North Carolina fourth in the nation for installed solar power, managing and maintaining these grid-connected renewable installations is critical now and in the future, added Golden.

"Energy storage is changing the paradigm on how we generate, distribute and use energy. The demonstration of new technologies will help facilitate wider adoption across the nation," Matt Roberts, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Energy Storage Association, said in a statement. "Duke Energy is to be commended for its work on this project and partnership efforts in advancing energy storage solutions."

Duke partnered with the following companies on the project that went into service last month:

  • Aquion Energy is providing the innovative battery technologies and associated engineering services.
  • Maxwell Technologies is providing fast-response ultracapacitors (UCAPs) that are capable of storing and discharging energy quickly and effectively.
  • Win Inertia is providing the SHAD® solution (Win Inertia's HESS) integrating enhanced power electronics and patented energy management and control systems.
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