Austin Energy poised to launch new distributed energy management system
- Austin Energy is preparing to formally announce a new distributed energy management system that will lean heavily on smart inverters communicating with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' system, and large-scale battery energy storage to allow more renewable generation to be utilized.
- AustinInno reports that a formal launch of the project, dubbed "Austin Shines," is expected in February.
- Austin Energy is working toward a 55% renewable goal by 2025, but it currently relies on a traditional generation mix and is seeking ways to bring more of Texas' wind power to its customers.
Austin Energy is making progress on its 55% renewable goal, but at the moment, the city currently gets just a quarter of its power from solar or wind. The bulk of it remains a traditional mix of coal, gas and nuclear, which sets a high bar for the utility.
"For the numbers we're wanting to achieve – 50 percent, 55 percent and beyond – you have to change the fundamental model of the electric grid," said Karl Potham, manager of Austin Energy's emerging technologies team
Potham gave a presentation on the new distributed energy resource management system last week, AustinInno reports. According to the news outlet, Austin Energy is planing to develop the system over a three-year period, plans to include residential and commercial solar, and will include a 10 MWh battery system. The storage system will be located at the utility's community solar project.
News of the new DERMS system comes alongside a study last year which showed gas generation was the most economical way to meet the city's growing power needs. Navigant Consulting completed the analysis, and while wind and solar resources were considered, the study found that the need for additional transmission and baseload generation to support variable resources would likely offset any benefits.
And in October, the City Council signed off on a solar procurement of up to 450 MW by 2019. That was followed by the utility signing a 15-year power purchase agreement with First Solar for the installation of the 119 MW East Pecos Solar Project.
Follow Robert Walton on Twitter