Dive Brief:

  • Eversource Energy is turning to efficiency and energy storage to help maintain reliability in a small, rural New Hampshire town prone to outages, rather than spend $6 million to construct a new 10-mile distribution circuit.
  • The largest component of the Westmoreland Clean Innovation Project is a 1.7 MW / 7.1 MWh lithium-ion battery, estimated to cost $7 million. Despite being costlier than the new-circuit alternative, the utility says the project will deliver savings to Eversouce customers by reducing peak costs
  • The project aims to improve service for about 450 residential customers, local businesses and critical facilities in the town, which is served by a single major power line.

Dive Insight:

Eversource will turn to a mix of utility scale and customer-sited resources to address reliability concerns in Westmoreland. And while the initial price tag is slightly higher than the distribution circuit alternative, officials say the cost pencils out.

Over the course of the project’s life, it “is expected to deliver cost savings to Eversource customers, significantly improve reliability to the town based on historic outage data, help manage energy use during times of peak demand, and reduce greenhouse gas emission while informing similar clean energy projects in the future,” the utility said in a statement.

In addition to the avoided $6 million cost of building a new distribution circuit, Eversource told Utility Dive that its analysis “estimates additional savings from peak cost reduction that will result in a net $2 million cost savings” for New Hampshire customers over the life of this project.

Along with the large-scale battery, the project will include local efficiency projects and targeted marketing of statewide incentives for customers to install batteries, electric vehicle chargers and smart thermostats for peak load reduction.

Using the new battery to shave yearly ISO New England capacity peaks and monthly transmission peaks will “drive those net $2 million in cost savings,” the utility said in an email. “The bring-your-own battery and efficiency programs will drive additional savings following the level of individual customer participation in them.”

The proposal includes an incentive for customers who install a residential battery and allow the utility to control its dispatch, Eversource said. Those customers would receive $200/kW, which officials say could translate to earning $1,000/year.

“There will be spaces reserved in the statewide ‘Bring Your Own Device’ program for Westmoreland residents,” the utility said.

Eversource said a statewide demand response program will be a part of its energy efficiency program update at the Public Utilities Commission later this year, though it ​will include “several opportunities reserved for customers in Westmoreland.” Eversource will also use existing efficiency funds for additional outreach and program marketing in Westmoreland.

Eversource estimates Westmoreland customers will annually save 50 kW through energy efficiency, 50 kW through residential batteries and 15 kW through smart thermostats. Statewide, the utility sees annual energy savings of 250 kW and 125 kW through residential batteries and smart thermostats, respectively.

The utility said it will file for approval of the battery project at the end May, and if approved, expects to begin construction late next year.