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Microgrid pilot project will store energy for village affected by outages

By: Ethan Duran//August 28, 2023//

Alliant Energy announced the completion of a battery storage and microgrid project in Boaz, Wis. The village has been affected by power outages and disruptions due to storms over the recent years, and officials said the community-scale system will offer some resilience when the power grid is disrupted. Photo courtesy of Alliant Energy

Microgrid pilot project will store energy for village affected by outages

By: Ethan Duran//August 28, 2023//

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A microgrid project that stores electricity outside the grid will operate in a western Wisconsin village that has been hit by multiple outages over several years.

Madison-based Alliant Energy officials on Thursday announced the grand opening of a microgrid project featuring an 8-hour battery system for the village of Boaz, home to around 129 people. A microgrid is a small system of electrical users connected to a local energy source with connections to a centralized grid but can function independently.

The system features a 400 kilowatt or 3200-kilowatt hour lithium iron phosphate battery system, which can power a location through a process called “islanding” which kicks in when the regional grid is down or disrupted, a spokesperson for Alliant said. The village takes power from a single overhead line 15 miles from a substation which has been susceptible to storm damage, the spokesperson added.

Boaz experienced 10 outages of 5 minutes or longer from 2017 through 2019, the longest outage being 7 hours, the spokesperson said. The battery can store energy and meet the village’s peak energy for 8 hours. Alliant officials said they expect the system to typically function for 20 hours depending on the village’s grid load.

Jean Nicks, village president of Boaz, said the village has been affected by severe storms and power outages in homes, public works and utility services.

“This new microgrid system supports our community and means we don’t have to worry constantly about outages that previously disabled equipment like our pumps for hours or days on end,” Nicks added, noting the microgrid system brings savings as well.

In October 2021, Alliant announced plans to construct the reliability microgrid in Boaz, officials said. The system is one of several pilot projects Alliant operates, and the company has operated battery pilot systems in Iowa and Wisconsin for several years, officials added.

Mike Bremel, director of engineering and customer solutions at Alliant Energy, called the completion a “step forward” to leverage new technology for reliable energy and grid resilience.

“This infrastructure upgrade allows us to expand our operational experience and apply new insights to future development opportunities,” Bremel added.

Alliant also has plans to develop utility-scale battery energy storage projects alongside the Edgewater Generating Station in Sheboygan and at solar projects in Grant and Wood counties. A separate solar project, the Bear Creek Solar site, was completed in Richland County in 2022. The solar site is independent of the microgrid in Boaz.

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