June 28, 2012
SMUD customers in Rancho Cordova help advance solar power technology
(SMUD photo by Joe Tapia)
Today, SMUD and 42 customers in the Anatolia subdivision in Rancho Cordova held a celebratory kickoff event to officially launch a demonstration project to learn how giant batteries can help power homes. The project, funded by a grant from the Department of Energy, SMUD, the California Energy Commission and SunPower Corp., will test how battery storage can provide extra energy capacity during peak demand times, such as the hottest days of summer.
“Developing a more balanced and reliable energy supply is in the best interests of the communities we serve and call home,” said Paul Lau, SMUD’s assistant general manager for power supply and grid operations, in his welcoming remarks. “That’s what makes this project such an exciting development from SMUD’s perspective.”
Under the program, 15 homeowners have had large lithium-ion batteries – the technology that powers hybrid autos like the Toyota Prius – installed in their garages. Another 27 homes will share three batteries located in common areas in their neighborhood. The batteries for the individual homes are about the size of a large mini-fridge and can power a home for two to three hours. The batteries shared by several homes are 4-by-4-foot cubes and have approximately three times the capacity of the in-home batteries.
“One factor that makes the Anatolia project a national trailblazer is the storage batteries have been approved by Underwriters Laboratories,” Lau said. “These are the first large lithium-ion batteries to earn UL’s seal of approval.”
During the hottest afternoon hours, when power is the most expensive, the homes will draw electricity from the batteries to supplement what they get from the grid and from the solar panels installed on their roofs. And late at night, when demand is down and power costs fall, the SMUD grid will recharge the batteries for use the next day.
Along with the batteries and other hardware, SMUD has installed scores of monitoring devices – in the homes, on the batteries and at a substation – to help keep track of how and when energy is being used, and even how specific weather conditions affect energy use on a minute-by-minute basis. Homeowners also will have in-home displays that will show them how much energy they are generating and using. SMUD grid operators have the ability through a Web application to monitor and manage these batteries individually or as a fleet.