Local utility companies test energy storage device
Benton PUD, Franklin PUD and the City of Richland are each testing out a new energy storage device that could save residents money on their energy bills.
The device is called the Grid.Balancer.
It stores electricity when prices are low, and releases that energy back to the grid when it's needed most.
The 10 kilowatt energy storage device can store up to four hours of energy.
It extracts energy from the grid during off-peak hours, when electricity is most available and least expensive for utilities.
Then it releases the energy back to the grid during high demand times, for example during the evening when people are home and using more energy.
Benton PUD employees say the device will help them be more efficient with power, and that savings could be passed on to customers.
"There's times when we are getting power from wind when it's blowing, but we don't need it right then and we can't use it. But at some point, we want to learn how to store it and use it when there's peak times needed. Like in the morning, when people are getting up and a lot of power is being used" said Karen Miller, Benton PUD.
Benton PUD employees say the energy storage device also has the potential to help offset the intermittency of wind and solar power, making them more reliable sources of energy.
The device will be tested for two years starting in September.
Benton PUD employees say energy storage is something that is just being introduced to utility companies, so it will take some time to master.
The project is being led by Battelle.