The Irvine Water District and Macquarie Capital announced the completion of the nation’s largest behind-the-meter energy storage project at the Irvine Ranch Water District’s (IRWD) Michelson Water Recycling Plant. The new 2.5MW/15MWh installation is a part of a distributed network of 11 energy storage installations at the water district’s recycling and pumping facilities that together total 7MW/34MWh.
The new installation will store power when it is cheap, which the facility can use during peak hours when power is more expensive. The 24/7/365 nature of operating and maintaining a water system means power usage is happening at all hours of the day, and with water pumps consuming a significant amount of power, peak electricity rates have an impact on the bottom line.
“IRWD is incredibly proud of its investment in energy solutions that serve our customers more effectively and efficiently while helping SCE operate the grid,” said Paul Cook, general manager of IRWD. “This project underscores the District’s ongoing commitment to making the most of all resources as demonstrated by our highly successful water efficiency programs and history of providing recycled water service to the community for use in landscape irrigation, cooling towers and dual-plumbed buildings.”
Installing these massive battery installations across its various sites allows the water district to insulate itself from rate changes. At the same time, the batteries allow it to capitalize on power when it is the most affordable. At the grid level, IRWD’s energy storage installations serve as grid-scale storage for the local utility, Southern California Edison (SCE), which is able to draw on IRWD’s stored power if needed.
“This project epitomizes the concept of storing surplus and saving it for later. As we experience more volatile climate extremes, which puts pressure on both water and electricity sources, IRWD will drive solutions to prepare for leaner times,” Cook added.
Utilities might not traditionally be the most progressive, innovative agencies around, but the size and savings coming from the Irvine Ranch Water District’s energy storage projects show that they do recognize and act upon the pure economics behind batteries. The energy storage project was recognized with the Golden Hub of Innovation Award from the Association of California Cities, Orange County and also the Best Energy Program Award for medium utilities from the California Municipal Utilities Association.
The new energy storage installations are owned and operated by Macquarie Capital, which has a long history of bullish investments in renewables. The projects with IRWD are a part of a much larger effort in partnership with SCE to modernize its electric grid across the West Los Angeles Basic service territory. “The completion of the Michelson battery project underscores the promise of grid-connected storage to deliver flexibility and value to utilities, customers and ratepayers alike,” said Michael Silverton, head of Macquarie Capital in the Americas.
Tesla Energy was tapped by project designer Advanced Microgrid Solutions to provide batteries for the installation which were paired with that company’s energy management platform.