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PUBLIC POWER DAILY: SCPPA to Rollout 53-MW Storage Project

January 27, 2010

By Jeanne LaBella

Southern California Public Power Authority and its 12 member utilities will move forward this year on deployment of a utility-scale ice storage air conditioning project. The 53-MW project will permanently shift as much as 64 gigawatt-hours of on-peak electricity consumption to off-peak periods every year, the agency said.

SCPPA is teaming up with Ice Energy, the Colorado-based manufacturer of the Ice Bear energy storage module, for what the manufacturer says will be the first such utility-scale project. SCPPA will install more than 6,000 Ice Bear units at 1,500 government and commercial buildings in its member communities. Most of the units will be installed at existing buildings, said Chris Hickman, a spokesman for Ice Energy.
The technology is "a convenient and cost-effective solution for managing peak demand and aligns perfectly with our smart grid initiatives," said Bill Carnahan, executive director of SCPPA.
The project will cost $115 million and is not supported by state or federal grants.
"The project is deployable because it is cost-effective without incentives," said Hickman. Installation of the units will begin midyear in five SCPPA member communities. Full installation is expected to take two years.
Ice Energy will operate and maintain the units for SCPPA under a long-term agreement that will extend for 10 years, with provision for two five-year renewals.
The Ice Bear technology was tested in Anaheim, Calif., beginning in 2004. The pilot project had a $10,000 grant from APPA's DEED (Demonstration of Energy Efficient Developments) program. Today, 15 public power utilities have units installed, Hickman said. The demonstration project in Anaheim showed that the technology could reduce peak energy consumption by 95 percent, from approximately 7,000 to 300 watts.
The ice storage units are typically about the same size as a conventional commercial air conditioning unit, measuring 8 by 4 by 4 feet. Each unit is paired with an air conditioning unit. The Ice Bear works at night, when electricity demand and prices are low, to produce and store ice for later use. During daytime peak hours, the unit releases the ice to provide cooling for the building, so the standard air conditioner is not consuming on-peak electricity.
The units are dispatchable down to the feeder level, so utilities can hold the ice in storage until air conditioning demand is highest each day. The aggregate electricity consumption of the air conditioner and the ice storage unit is no greater than the amount of electricity normally consumed on peak by an air conditioner, Hickman said.
As the ice storage units are installed, some existing air conditioners may be replaced with newer, cleaner, more efficient models, said Hickman. This will help reduce greenhouse gases because many existing units use R22, a coolant that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is phasing out because it harms the ozone layer. New air conditioning units use R410A refrigerant, which is not a greenhouse gas.
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