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Battery Storage: A Cooperative Innovation

Implementing battery storage to curb electric demand and save members money is an innovative concept that has been studied by the energy industry for years. Incorporating a pilot project in western Iowa is a concept that has been brought to fruition, thanks to the Cooperative Principle of “Cooperation among Cooperatives” and the efforts of seven electric cooperatives, including Nishnabotna Valley REC.

NVREC is collaborating with its power provider, Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO), and the other six member-owners of NIPCO to integrate a 975-kilowatt Tesla® Megapack battery energy storage system (BESS) into the NIPCO system, as a trial battery project. The concept of this trial project is to enable NIPCO to utilize battery storage as a part of its overall load management strategy.

“The goal of installing a grid-scale battery will be for peak-shaving, thus reducing the peak power demand charge that NIPCO pays to purchase power during periods of high consumption. These demand charges are passed along to our member co-ops,” explains Chris Larson, NIPCO’s system protection engineer II. “The battery will be charged during off-peak hours and then discharged during peak hours, alongside NIPCO’s existing load management system. Operating the battery storage system in this manner reduces the peak power demand charges that ultimately get passed along to member-consumers.”

The stored power from the battery will allow NIPCO to avoid purchasing almost 1 megawatt of power (enough to power approximately 100 homes) during peak usage times for up to six hours. The operation of the battery will be coordinated with existing load control strategies.

The Tesla BESS will be connected to an electric substation located west of Lawton, Iowa. The avoided purchased power savings will be recognized across the entire NIPCO membership and, ultimately, benefit NVREC member-consumers.

During this summer and early fall, site prep at the Lawton Substation progressed by expanding the footprint of the substation to include a separate fenced yard that houses the battery unit. In September, the Tesla BESS was delivered, and REC crews are currently working to connect it with the substation. The battery is expected to deploy its first charge in the next few months.

NVREC will be receiving ongoing performance data from NIPCO to highlight the battery’s ability to reduce member-consumer power costs and use existing generating resources more efficiently.