By ANNIE ROPEIK MAY 21, 2019
Westmoreland School CREDIT COURTESY EVERSOURCE
Eversource wants to bring battery storage and other new energy technology to a small, rural town in western New Hampshire.
The utility’s clean energy strategy director, Charlotte Ancel, says the town of Westmoreland experiences some of the longest, most frequent power outages of any town in the utility’s New Hampshire service area.
Ancel says this is because Westmoreland relies on one power line with no backups, and it’s vulnerable to falling tree branches in storms the utility expects to increase with climate change.
“So we view the need to provide safe, reliable, cost-effective power to our customers as being an urgent and non-negotiable need,” she says.
But Ancel says building another power line to address the problem would cost $6 million.
Instead, Eversource wants to build a battery, for $7 million – with an estimated long-term savings of $2 million for all the company’s New Hampshire customers.
Ancel says the project aims to reduce costs, improve reliability and lower carbon emissions for customers in Westmoreland and across the state.
The battery will serve as a back-up generator for the town, able to provide power for up to four hours if their main power line has an outage.
The average power outage in Westmoreland right now lasts two and a half hours. Eversource’s average outages elsewhere are under two hours long.
The town has also experienced 20 outages in the past five years – an average of one every three months. The average Eversource town experiences an outage roughly every 13 months, according to a spokesman.
Ancel says the battery will also store up power when prices are low – then use that power to cut costs and emission at times of peak demand, like on very cold or hot days.
The demonstration project is part of the utility’s plans for a more modern energy grid.
“We’d like to use this project to test and refine that vision and to also bring in other partners,” Ancel says.
In Westmoreland, that’ll include energy efficiency upgrades for residents – as well as incentives for those who give Eversource access to their in-home batteries, electric vehicle chargers and smart thermostats.
With that “bring your own device” program, Ancel says the utility will be able to turn down those devices just slightly a couple times a month to offset energy demand during high-price periods.
The utility hopes to include the project in a rate hike that’s already in the works with state regulators. Construction would begin next year.