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Battery storage pilot charging forward

May 17, 2021 | Jodi Baker | generation, public power
battery storage grant

OPPD is powering ahead with an energy storage project that will help inform the utility as it brings more renewables online.

The Battery Research Innovation Guided by High-Potential Technologies (BRIGHT) project, located in Cass County, will provide innovative research that will benefit not only OPPD, but all Nebraska utilities. Researching utility-scale battery storage also supports OPPD’s Pathways to Decarbonization strategic initiative.

Battery grant funds

A Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) grant of $600,000, awarded last June, helps make the project possible.

The BRIGHT team held a series of vendor workshops last fall to learn more about the latest technology and varied costs.

“We learned a lot from those workshops,” said Christene Bywater, alternative energy project manager at OPPD. “For instance, the industry has made great strides with regards to safety, which is still evolving.”

“But they’re not as far along with areas like recycling. Even though our project has yet to be constructed, we have to think about end-of-life, and how we can be good stewards to our environment.”

The utility plans to build an approximately two megawatt-hour battery storage device. The equipment will be housed at an OPPD substation in Cass County.

“The BRIGHT project allows us to learn about numerous storage technologies,” said Michal Lisowyj, an alternative energy specialist at OPPD. “As we took a look at potential technologies for this project, Li-ion and flow batteries seem to have the highest potential. Li-ion, due to its decreasing costs and maturity in the industry, and flow batteries due to their low degradation rate.”

Lisowyj said he’s looking forward to reviewing proposals.

“There are many exciting storage technologies and opportunities to learn through this project.”

About the project

Fractal Energy Storage Consultants is the owner’s engineer for OPPD. They will guide the utility on the purchase, installation and operation of the battery.

“Fractal brings its own innovative software to the project, which will simulate battery performance, degradation, costs, and revenues,” said Bywater. “It will help us to better evaluate total cost of ownership, which is huge. We want to make sure we get the best value for our investment.”

OPPD hopes to award a vendor contract for the project by September. The team estimates commercial operation will begin in summer 2022.

Customers can learn more about the project and share ideas on the OPPD BRIGHT pilot page on, OPPD’s community engagement platform.

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About Jodi Baker

Jodi Baker contributes stories to The Wire in addition to serving as a media liaison for OPPD. She was a reporter, working for news stations from her hometown of Omaha to San Diego, prior to joining the utility in 2013. Jodi has a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, with a minor in Criminal Justice. She’s married with two older children and two younger dogs – Shi Tzu mixes. She loves watching her daughter’s track meets, going to concerts with her husband Dave, who used to co-host a local music video program, and traveling whenever possible.

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