Is GVEA using its giant battery to back up Eva Creek Wind?

Given the variability of wind, it’s important to have a backup power source for our Eva Creek Wind project. But right now, this back up source is not our Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

GVEA's Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) prevented approximately 114,000 member outages last year.

GVEA’s Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) prevented approximately 114,000 member outages last year.

Instead, GVEA spins a turbine “on low” at our North Pole or Zehnder power plants in case the wind dies down. While it’s not efficient to run a turbine at such low levels, it does ensure backup generation is readily available when the wind dies.

Using the BESS in its current form to regulate wind would wear out the batteries in a hurry. Since the BESS came online in December of 2003, it has responded to about 40 events annually. If we used it to back up Eva Creek, it would have to respond to hundreds or even thousands of events annually. Our battery system wasn’t designed for this kind of use.

That said, our engineering department is working on a study to determine if and how our BESS could help regulate the wind from Eva Creek in the future. We’ll keep you posted.

More on the BESS

  • In the event of a generation or transmission related outage, the BESS can provide up to 27 megawatts of power for 15 minutes, giving our dispatchers enough time to fire up another generator.
  • The BESS responded to 43 events in 2012, preventing approximately 114,000 member outages.
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