State’s first utility-scale energy storage facility installed in Sterling

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The town of Sterling has installed the first utility-scale energy storage facility in Massachusetts, which provides up to 12 days of emergency backup power to the town’s police station and public safety dispatch center in case of a power outage.
 
The 2-megawatt, 3.9 megawatt-hour clean energy battery storage system, which works in conjunction with the Sterling Municipal Light Department’s solar arrays, also allows the town to tap reserves during hours of peak electricity demand, resulting in cost savings for the town.
 
Funded through a $1.4 million resiliency grant from the Department of Energy Resources and a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the system’s installation was finished in December, just in time for a first test.
 
Overnight from Dec. 16 into Dec. 17, the temperature dropped as low as 1 degree in Sterling. As a result, the Light Department hit its peak power usage levels, which would have kicked in additional power grid charges, according to Sean Hamilton, general manager of the Light Department. The new battery, from Westborough-based NEC Energy Solutions, was used to shave the town’s electricity use during that peak period.
 
Hamilton said he believes the Sterling battery system is the largest of its kind online in New England in terms of megawatt hours.
 
“We applied for the grant … to provide backup as a follow up to Superstorm Sandy,” he said, adding that keeping the backup generators filled during the storm proved to be difficult.
 
Hamilton credited DOER Commissioner Judith Judson and DOE Energy Storage Program Manager Dr. Imre Gyuk for working with the town to bring the project to fruition.
 
The grant funding came from the DOER’s Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative and the DOE’s Office of Electricity, which worked with the DOE’s Sandia National Laboratories research lab.