The NEC Energy Solutions Blog

Energy storage and cost savings – ConEd provides example

Con Edison, one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States, is facing a crossroads regarding its current business model and energy delivery methods. The solution, it turns out, could be to deploy customer-side energy storage with some grid-side storage as well, Storage PV Tech reported.

According to the news source, ConEd recently submitted a proposal to invest in energy storage systems as an alternative to large-scale grid upgrades that could cost as much as $1 billion, the report said.

ConEd's power delivery problem
ConEd serves the New York metropolitan region, meaning it must deal with rapidly rising power demands and peak energy usage spikes that can be overwhelming. The news source explained that leaders with the organization had analyzed near-future power demands and realized that the grid would need approximately $1 billion in infrastructure upgrades to keep up with ongoing requirements. This steep price would be spent primarily on substation upgrades alone, creating a potentially inefficient use of fiscal resources. Alternatively, investing in energy storage solutions and putting them on the customer side of the grid could allow consumers to move to more distributed generation models with rooftop solar panels and similar solutions, leading to considerable savings for the energy company.

The proposal suggested that the majority of the energy storage investment, approximately three quarters of the funds, would go to customer-side energy storage. The rest would go to the grid. Cosmin Laslau, analyst for Lux Research, told Storage PV Tech that these residential and commercially focused energy storage investments are becoming more common as utility companies try to meet rising demands without taking on excess costs. 

The storage solutions would be used, to a great extent, in demand management, and the goal would be to add approximately 52 MW of demand management storage space on the customer side of the grid.

Using batteries to stave off grid costs
Many organizations face problems similar to ConEd. Maybe they don't have the scale of supporting a region like metro New York, but they do face a need to make major grid changes to meet contemporary demands for power delivery and reliability. Energy storage is more than just a band-aid. Lithium ion batteries and similar technologies can solve demand management problems facing the grid, making it much easier for utility providers to take the time needed to gain funding and make a more gradual set of grid upgrades to move into the future.

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