Irvine Ranch public-private partnership earns Innovation Award for Energy Storage Program

By on February 2, 2018

Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) and Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) have been recognized for their public-private partnership to install the largest network of energy storage systems at a public water agency in the United States.  The partnership was selected as a winner the 6th Annual Golden Hub of Innovation Awards by the Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACC-OC). The award recognizes local agencies, cities and individuals that successfully implement programs and policies that save taxpayer dollars and improve services for local residents.

The energy storage system is based on a 7 MW / 34 MWh network utilizing Tesla batteries. The installation sites include 11 of IRWD’s largest and most energy-intensive facilities – including three water treatment and recycling plants, a deep aquifer treatment system, a groundwater desalter facility and six high-energy pumping stations – as part of a major grid modernization project for Southern California Edison (SCE).

The California Energy Commission has indicated that the transportation and treatment of water, treatment and disposal of wastewater, in addition to the energy used to heat and consume water account for some 20 percent of the total electricity and 30 percent of non-power plant related natural gas consumed by Californians. IRWD has linked their new energy storage systems together as one network which provides IRWD facility managers both real time visibility and operational flexibility when responding to utility requests for demand reduction.

The new system is a grid support project enabling the public water agency to store energy, making it available to reduce demand from the grid when requested by the utility. The new system will be able to function without interrupting water treatment operations but reducing the need for additional supply from fossil fuel generation in a region challenged by the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

“Our agency has stepped forward with an innovative solution designed to protect customers while helping to reduce and better balance Southern California’s energy demands,” said IRWD board president Mary Aileen Matheis. “This battery storage system – the largest in the nation – provides significant cost savings, enhanced grid stability and contributes to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint.”

This innovative partnership puts IRWD at the forefront of addressing one of California’s great environmental challenges – the “water/energy nexus.” Water and energy use are inextricably intertwined – the pumping, treatment and distribution of water requires significant amounts of electricity.

The IRWD-AMS Project is supported by a 10-year power-purchase agreement with SCE. Under that agreement, AMS will design, finance, install and operate energy storage systems at IRWD facilities and manage requests from SCE for load reduction at IRWD’s facilities when needed to balance the grid.

“We’re proud to partner with IRWD on such an advanced, clean energy project,” said Susan Kennedy, CEO of AMS. “This energy storage system builds on IRWD’s sustainability and efficiency commitment, taking it to a new level in tackling the water-energy nexus. Our utility-scale contracts make possible the realization of guaranteed savings and accomplishment for organizations – particularly public water agencies such as IRWD – with serious energy and emissions reduction goals,” added Kennedy.