Rather than building a new power plant to address peak electricity demand needs, Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) will move 64 GWh of demand a year to off-peak times using Ice Energy storage systems.
These storage systems, which connect to existing building air conditioning units, use off-peak energy to freeze 450 gallons (about 1700 litres) of water overnight in an insulated tank. The resulting stored energy, in the form of ice, is used to cool buildings without running compressors during hot afternoons when electricity demand spikes.
SCPPA is a consortium of 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district with some 2 million customers across a broad swath of Southern California. Over the next 24 months, SCPPA will have Ice Energy install its systems on 1500 government, industrial and commercial buildings in the service territories of its member utilities. The project has the equivalent impact of adding 53-MW capacity peaking power plant.
“Ice Energy's solution is a convenient and cost-effective solution for managing peak demand, and aligns perfectly with our smart grid initiatives — enabling our member utilities to deliver reliable, competitively priced electric service to their customers in a sustainable, environmentally sensitive manner,” said Bill Carnahan, executive director of SCPPA. “By using storage to change how — and more importantly when — energy is consumed by air conditioning, we can offset enough peak demand in the region to serve the equivalent of 10,000 homes.”
Ice Energy, which has been running pilot projects with some two dozen utilities in seven states and the Canadian province of Ontario, calls the deal unprecedented.
Jeffrey Byron, commissioner of the California Energy Commission, hailed the SCPPA project as critical to helping the state of California meet a key strategic objective: that all utilities consider energy-efficiency and demand-side-management solutions before investing in generation resources to meet demand objectives.
“This project includes all of the aspects we look for: managing electrical consumption, improving system efficiency, reducing greenhouse gases and creating regional jobs for our communities,” said Byron. “SCPPA is to be applauded for showing how Californians are taking the lead to deploy innovative solutions to meet our energy demands.”