Kentucky utility installs home storage for demand response pilot program

Dive Brief:

  • Kentucky-based Glasgow Electric Plant Board is installing energy storage devices supplied by Sunverge Energy in 165 homes in its service territory, part of a demand response pilot aimed at helping lower the utility's carbon emissions.
  • Sunverge's systems will place utility-grade storage at individual homes, along with software to manage the storage. It is the first utility to use Sunverge's storage without a solar installation.
  • The systems act as a virtual power plant for Glasgow, placed at the point of load and helping to avoid losses, distribution upgrades, and land impacts.

Dive Insight:

A small Kentucky municipal utility has turned to Sunverge Energy to help it reduce carbon emissions by 25%. The Glasgow Electric Plant Board said over the summer that it would be installing energy storage systems supplied by Sunverge, as part of a demand response program targeting peak demand in the southern portion of the state.

Sunverge's storage devices will capture power from the electric grid at night or when demand and cost are lower, and distribute it during the day when demand spikes.

“Glasgow is our first customer to use distributed storage without solar to create significant network value,” Ken Munson, co-founder and CEO of Sunverge Energy, said in a statement. “While many of our installations are in tandem with the use of solar panels, our technology offers the same reliability, cost savings and emissions reductions regardless of the source of the power."

Munson called the utility "a pioneer" that could serve as a model for other utilities that serve rural or isolated communities.

In addition to emissions goals, the Sunverge systems are also designed to reduce the cost of generating that power, resulting in savings to customers, and they can also serve as backup power in the event of outages. The system wil use detailed and real-time data to operate as a Virtual Power Plant, "not unlike a large solar energy or energy storage project, except that it is now at the point of load, avoiding losses, distribution upgrades, and precious land," Sunverge said.

So-called "Virtual Power Plants" have stepped into the spotlight as a way to mold distributed resources into a single, large system.  Also known as a Distributed Energy Resource Management System (DERMS), these software-as-solution platform can manage a wide range of resources aimed at integrating renewables, control prices and flatten load curves. 

For rural, more remote utilities, it could be a way to meet both demands of customers while lowering carbon emissions. 

“The Glasgow Electric Plant Board was created specifically to meet the needs of our local community, and what our customers want us to do is make service more reliable, less expensive and with fewer emissions,” said William Ray, EPB superintendent. “The technology from Sunverge Energy will help us achieve all those goals and help us continue to evolve the way we serve our customers.”

Glasgow will also be partnering on the project with University of Louisville Research Foundation; Move the Peak; Virtual Peaker; and, Strata G LLC. The homes tapped for storage installations use ecobee smart thermostats and GE energy efficient hot water heaters, which will work with the utility's peak load control program.

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Filed Under: Energy Storage Efficiency & Demand Response
Top image credit: NIST