EVERETT, Wash. - The Snohomish County Public Utilities District says it’s getting smarter about how it manages electricity. And by early 2014 will have installed the first battery at one of its substations, to be followed by more.
Some of the batteries built inside the same type of shipping containers you see every day on trucks, trains and ships can generate enough juice to power anywhere from 100 to 1,000 homes, depending on the type of battery technology inside.
The smart part comes in shifting the time when electricity is generated, which often falls during the lowest demand times to the times when power is most in demand.
Take wind and solar power, which now make up nearly 10 percent of the utilities power portfolio.
"Take power that's developed at peak solar times, say between 11 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, and move it later in the day when you can actually use it," said David Kaplan, CEO of 1Energy Systems, which is helping Snohomish county build its smart management system, including the use of technologies that are expected to include different battery technologies.
Right now, if there's a wind storm at 3 a.m., the potential electricity driving a wind turbine will be wasted because demand is low. In the morning when people get up, demand spikes as furnaces are turned up and TV sets and coffee makers are turned on, but the sunrise hours are usually when winds are at their calmest.