UPDATE: See the bottom for Consumer Advocate Don Kreis’ explanation of why his office opposed this plan.
How about some depressing news not related to COVID? An intriguing proposal to use 7.1 megawatt lithium-ion battery storage and some demand control to improve reliability in a small New Hampshire town served by a single power line (I wrote about it here) has been shelved.
Eversource says the Public Utilities Commission wanted to expand the project beyond what they wanted, according to this Keene Sentinel story.
Lets hope they figure this out, because this is exactly the sort of thing that we need a lot more of to maintain power reliability without accelerating our climate demise.
Don Kreis, the state consumer advocate, pointed out in a twitter exchange with me that his office and the PUC supported a different wires alternative: Liberty Utility’s plan to use distributed batteries in Hanover to balance load and replace traditional upgrades. The problem with the Eversource plan, he wrote, was mostly financial: They wanted to “rate base” it, or make all ratepayers cover all the costs. Here’s part of his exchange:
He also points out that Eversource can still build the project if they want to experiment – they just can’t get a guaranteed rate-of-return.
Eversource management again shows a reluctance to move forward in the 21st century. Sad for everyone involved, especially their customers.
The state’s Consumer Advocate indicates the PUC concern centered on the fact that the cost would have been born by all ratepayers but the benefit would only have applied to a few – a legitimate concern, although with a small and innovative project ilke this I would like to think it might be waived.
We need to look at the long term impacts of a 7MW battery solution that would likely have a 10- 15 year life and then need to be disposed of and replenished. There is no environmentally neutral solution to this problem. Everything has a primary impact when sourcing the raw materials and building the components, secondary impact during its useful life and tertiary impact at end of life and disposal or recycle. We aren’t doing ourselves any favors if we do not evaluate these solutions at all phases of their life and the sum total impact and cost before we make these decisions. My guess is the power line has less primary impact, a much longer service life and minimal end of life impact. We should then evaluate the two and see which is the better solution for the town, state and humanity. For some more info on lithium ion impacts read https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/features/lithium-ion-battery-environmental-impact/
Yes, TANSSAAFL, as they say (there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch). You can’t create megawatts of electricity on demand without doing environmental damage of some kind.
Life-cycle analysis is a basic part of engineering project design; it’s not like nobody has thought of it. My guess is that rebuilding the power line has multiple effects and costs that you and I know nothing about and can’t judge from afar.
The state’s Consumer Advocate, in a twitter exchange with me, pointed out that the PUC supported another alternative – Liberty Utiility using distributed batteries in Hanover to balance load and replace the need for grid upgrades – but that the main objection to Eversource is that they wanted to “rate base” the whole thing, or make all ratepayers cover all the cost.
I’ve added some material from that exchange with Kreis to the article as an update.