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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


OPPD will soon begin testing utility-scale battery

November 1, 2022 | Jason Kuiper | generation, public power, utility-scale battery storage
battery storage
This 80-ton battery is the first stand-alone lithium-ion battery in the state.

OPPD is nearly ready to begin testing of its first lithium-ion battery storage project now that the 80-ton battery is in place.

The battery pilot program – officially called BRIGHT (Battery Research Innovation Guided by High-Potential Technologies) – will test how battery storage can be integrated into OPPD’s grid. OPPD officials will also be testing the battery on its capabilities to provide load relief and voltage support at the substation level.

A $600,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) helped make the project possible.  NET is funded by Nebraska Lottery proceeds.

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The battery recently arrived at an OPPD substation in Cass County.

First in Nebraska

The battery is the first stand-alone lithium-ion battery in the state. It recently arrived at a substation near Weeping Water in Cass County. The site is a good fit because of the substation’s loading profile and electrical configuration. The site also provides the opportunity to try out use-cases of the battery that will have a positive impact on the surrounding area. It was constructed by the WEG Electric Corp.

The battery will be capable of producing one megawatt of power for up to about two hours, comparable to providing power for nearly 75 homes with one full discharge.

“We purchased a battery that is large enough to discharge and recharge every single day without degrading the 20-year lifespan,” said Christene Bywater, Alternative Energy project manager at OPPD. “For future purposes, there is the possibility we could put this on SPP’s capacity market at some point. So in the future, were we to have larger batteries, we could offer more capacity into the market.”

Future of battery storage

OPPD officials said this is an exciting time for the utility, and the battery has far-reaching implications. NET awarded the grant to OPPD in June 2020; the application was for Cass County specifically.

“This is just the first step for OPPD to explore and investigate the future of how we are going to lead into these batteries, whether it is sizing or how we operate them,” said Jacob Welchert, project manager with OPPD.

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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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