BPL touts customer savings via $15 mil. battery storage system

BPL will count on storage units for greater grid and transmission stability

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) customers will see savings over the long term after the completed setup of a $15 million, 25 megawatt battery energy storage system at the company’s Blue Hills station, BPL’s Chief Executive Officer Whitney Heastie said yesterday.

Heastie announced during a press conference yesterday that a contract was signed with energy technology company Wartsilla for the battery storage system, which will be positioned where BPL once operated temporary Aggreko engines to keep New Providence’s power grid stable.

Now BPL will count on the battery storage units for grid stability, as they will reduce or completely remove the spinning reserve, which is the amount of unused capacity of an engine that is running.

“This will certainly allow us to ramp up our engines,” said Heastie. “Consider our engines as thoroughbred horses, they do not want to be held back. Because we always fear the loss of an engine, we typically have to hold these engines back to run at 60 to 70 percent of their rated capacity.

“With the battery storage system, we can now turn these thoroughbreds loose and they can now run at about 90 percent.”

The battery storage unit is expected to be completed by July 2022, according to a BPL press statement. With the engines running at a higher efficiency, Heastie said customers will eventually notice lower electricity rates as fuel use improves. He added that the engines will also become more environmentally sound, running at greater efficiency levels.

According to Heastie, the batteries are being placed at the Blue Hills station because that station has a high load demand from customers in the southern and eastern parts of the island. Heastie also explained that the battery storage units will allow more loads to be transferred to the Clifton Pier power plant. He said the 25 megawatts of battery storage will improve transmission reliance and voltage frequency to the grid.

“Not only would you see us reducing spinning reserve, increasing the loads on the engines, impacting the environment, you’re running less engines because now that you’ve increased the load on the engines, you don’t have to run as many engines to produce the same amount of power,” said Heastie.

“But we’ll also be able to regulate and control the amount of voltage and frequency with the battery energy storage system.”

BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said the addition of the battery storage will also support renewable energy as the grid becomes more stable. He said BPL will now be able to work with businesses that want to begin installing utility scale solar at their businesses to feed back into the grid.

“Now that we’re putting this into our network, those businesses that want to invest in rooftop solar, we can now work with them to bring those type of projects to fruition without jeopardizing customers.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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