Battery Storage Shaves Costs From Peak Power Times

United Power is partnering with Chicago-based SoCore Energy to install 4 megawatts of Tesla Powerpacks based on lithium ion battery technology

United Power in Brighton plans to construct the largest utility-scale battery storage system in Colorado this year. The 7,000-square-foot installation, located southwest of Firestone near I-25 and Highway 119, will help manage system growth and equates to about $1 million in annual electricity savings, says engineer Jerry Marizza, United Power's new business director.

"This battery project is helping the co-op manage renewable energy resources throughout our grid," including solar installations that produce the most power mid-day, Marizza says. 

United Power is partnering with Chicago-based SoCore Energy to install 4 megawatts of Tesla Powerpacks that are based on lithium ion battery technology. The Tesla rechargeable four-hour batteries will store excess power during non-peak times and then release that energy during peak-use times, usually 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

With the construction of the battery system, United Power will roll out a shared savings program that will allow commercial and industrial customers to purchase battery power to offset demand charges at their locations. Customers such as the town of Erie and a large local dairy farm have expressed interest in buying battery capacity, similar to purchasing panels in a community solar garden.

With 14 percent electric load growth each of the past two years and more than 82,000 meters, United Power investigated battery energy storage for three years and moved forward now that battery prices have dropped. In the past eight years, United Power added 54 megawatts in renewable energy resources through multiple utility-scale solar installations, a landfill methane-capture project and 2,300 rooftop solar systems.

The project in Firestone follows a 1-megawatt battery storage demonstration project completed last year by Xcel Energy at Pena Station Next in Denver. Xcel has another energy storage pilot project in the works at the Stapleton neighborhood, including six customer batteries in homes and six larger grid-sited batteries.

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