As battery storage systems become more common in the energy sector, a relatively small microgrid pilot project in rural Richland County, Wisconsin, is delivering a big improvement for residents and businesses. In a first for the state, Alliant Energy completed a community-scale microgrid system in the village of Boaz.
For this unique microgrid project, Alliant Energy created a small-scale power grid with islanding capability, meaning the system can seamlessly disconnect from the traditional grid and operate independently in the event of a power outage or service disruption. When disconnected from the traditional grid, microgrids can ensure customers in a defined area continue to have power from a distributed energy resource, such as battery, wind, solar or a combination thereof. The benefit of this system: improved reliability and reduced service disruptions.
“We’ve been impacted by severe storms and power outages, affecting everything from the lights in our homes to our public works and utility services,” said Jean Nicks, Boaz village president. “This new microgrid system supports our community and means we won’t have to worry constantly about outages that previously disabled equipment like our pumps for hours or days on end. In addition to the added peace of mind, this microgrid will deliver great savings for our village.”
Alliant Energy announced its plans to construct the Boaz reliability microgrid in October 2021. The Boaz microgrid system is one of several advanced research pilot projects Alliant operates as it continues to expand access to energy storage solutions. The company has operated battery pilot systems in Iowa and Wisconsin for several years and continues to explore new applications and opportunities.
“The completion of this microgrid battery system is a major step forward as we leverage new technology to improve energy reliability and grid resilience,” said Mike Bremel, director of engineering and Customer Solutions at Alliant Energy. “This infrastructure upgrade allows us to expand our operational experience and apply new insights to future development opportunities.”
In addition to the microgrid project, the company has announced plans to develop utility-scale battery energy storage projects alongside its Edgewater Generating Station in Sheboygan and at its Grant County and Wood County solar project sites. Alliant Energy’s growing portfolio of battery systems complement the company’s transition to renewable energy generation while ensuring safe, reliable and affordable energy for customers.
Sheboygan generating station to begin construction in 2024
For more than a century, the city of Sheboygan has been a key energy hub helping to power homes and businesses in eastern Wisconsin and beyond. With new technological advances and the ongoing transition to cleaner renewable generation sources, Alliant Energy announced in February it will develop a battery energy storage system adjacent to the current Edgewater Generating Station.
“This battery system represents the next phase of energy generation that will enable more sustainable growth and greater resiliency,” said David de Leon, president of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company.
The company plans to begin construction on the Edgewater Battery Project in 2024 and expects it to be in service shortly after the Edgewater Generating Station is retired in 2025. The 99 MW battery system will be located on a seven-acre parcel.
Projects get greenlight in Grant and Wood counties
On Aug. 9, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) approved two Alliant Energy battery energy storage projects totaling 175 MW. The approval clears the way for construction to begin on the 100 MW Grant County Battery Project and 75 MW Wood County Battery Project. They will be located alongside the company’s Grant County and Wood County solar sites. The integration of these battery systems with the company’s utility-scale solar sites increases customer access to safe, reliable energy.
“We appreciate the PSCW’s approval of these cutting-edge battery energy storage systems that will enhance grid reliability and flexibility for our customers,” said de Leon.
Alliant expects to begin construction on both battery projects in early 2024. The Wood County project in the town of Saratoga is expected to be operational by the end of 2024, while the Grant County project in the town of Potosi is expected to be operational by mid-2025.
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