Ice Energy begins 53MW storage project with SCPPA

Rather than building a new power plant to address peak electricity demand needs, Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) will move some 64 gigawatt hours of demand a year to off-peak times using Ice Energy storage systems.

The systems, which connect to existing building air conditioning (AC) units, use off-peak energy overnight to freeze 450 gallons (about 1,700 litres) of water in an insulated tank. The resulting stored energy, in the form of ice, is used to cool buildings during hot afternoons when electricity demand spikes to run traditional AC systems.

Over the next 24 months, SCPPA will pay Colorado-based Ice Energy to install its systems on some 1,500 government, industrial and commercial buildings in the service territories of its member utilities. The project is equivalent to a 53 megawatt capacity peaking power plant. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

SCPPA and Ice say the project – which is an example of demand-side management – will contribute to grid stability, lower rates for customers, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and allow the integration of more renewable energy by providing additional load to balance off-peak renewable supplies.

“We now have a convenient and cost-effective solution for managing peak demand,” says David Walden, energy systems manager for SCPPA, a consortium of 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district with some 2 million customers across a broad swath of Southern California. “It aligns perfectly with our smart grid initiatives, solving the load profile of our customers while maintaining their convenience as well as meeting our environmental requirements.”

Ice, which has been running pilot projects with some two dozen utilities in seven states and the Canadian province of Ontario, calls the deal unprecedented.

“In every commodity market in the world – except for one, electricity storage – storage exists to be the shock absorber for the imbalance between supply and demand,” says Frank Ramirez, chief executive of Ice Energy. “Until now, utilities have been forced to significantly overbuild all facets of their infrastructure to meet peak energy demands for but a few hours each year. That all changes starting today.”

In addition to the initial 53MW project, the deal allows for the expansion of the Ice Energy solution to perhaps hundreds of megawatts with SCPPA member utilities.