ENGIE North America and Holyoke Gas & Electric announced plans this week for a 3-megawatt utility-scale energy storage installation in Massachusetts that they say will be the largest in the state once completed. The new installation project calls for a series of batteries at the Mt. Tom solar array, which became operational earlier this year, MassLive.com reported.
Green Charge, an ENGIE subsidiary, is going to operate the new system in Western Massachusetts. HG&E, the system’s customer, anticipates that the installation will optimize intermittent solar energy, reduce utility capacity costs, and remove stress from the utility’s distribution system, according to an announcement about the project.
About a year ago, ENGIE and HG&E broke ground on the Mt. Tom Solar Farm at the site of a former coal plant. In January, the 5.76-megawatt solar plant went online, becoming one of the state’s largest with more than 17,000 solar panels on about 22 acres.
MassLive.com reported that the new batteries would be built in weatherproof shipping containers elevated 6 feet off the ground. A press release explained that “electricity produced from the Mt. Tom 5.76 MW-DC solar farm will be stored in the energy storage system isolated from, but interconnected to, HG&E’s electricity grid.” Then that stored power can be called upon during peak load periods in the town and the larger region.
The Mt. Tom energy storage project will produce peak demand and asset management benefits to help HG&E stabilize electric rates over the long term, HG&E manager Jim Lavelle said in the press release. Currently the utility has approximately 18,000 electric customers and a peak load around 75 megawatts, the HG&E site says.
Construction should start soon and Green Charge says the installation will be completed by next April.