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OPPD begins steps toward energy storage

June 15, 2020 | Jason Kuiper | environment, generation, reliability
battery storage grant

Thanks to a recent grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET), OPPD is starting a pilot program to study battery storage at the utility.

NET formally approved the $600,000 grant to OPPD on June 11 during its second quarter board meeting.

The grant will help fund the OPPD Battery Storage Pilot, which will provide research and direct benefits for the utility.

NET is funded by Nebraska Lottery proceeds and has awarded more than $320 million in conservation projects in Nebraska since 1994. The grant approval included matching funds from OPPD for the pilot project.

“This is a very big deal and the grant helps us accelerate our utility scale storage efforts,” said Michal Lisowyj, alternative energy specialist at OPPD.

Lisowyj said OPPD will use the stand-alone battery for grid support. It will be housed in a substation.

“We want to understand how various use cases and recurring cycling degrades the battery, much like a cell phone battery that doesn’t hold the same charge over time,” Lisowyj said. “This will provide learning for potential future energy storage projects. I know there is a lot of interest around energy storage at OPPD and this will allow us to see what it can do. We want to learn as much as we can from this experience.”

The battery will likely be approximately 1 megawatt in size, small enough to fit in a storage container. The grant enables the utility to perform research that will benefit not only OPPD, but other utilities in Nebraska

Future implications

The pilot program will test how battery storage can integrate into OPPD’s grid, providing load relief and voltage support at the substation level. The research gleaned in the pilot will help the utility understand the procurement, construction and operations of small energy-storage applications and how to scale for potential future applications.

“This is the largest grant we’ve received from NET,” said Karisa Vlasek, OPPD’s coordinator for Grants & Stakeholder Outreach. “There is a lot of excitement around this.”

Last summer, OPPD announced a strategic initiative to study pathways to decarbonization. The study includes emerging technologies such as battery storage. The battery project is slated to be operational by December 2021.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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