New battery storage system will mean fewer outages, lower bills for Northeastern REMC customers

Local News

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WANE) — Northeastern Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (NREMC) is launching a utility-scale battery storage system that will ensure thousands of homes still have power when outages occur.

Even better for customers, the technology will mean lower utility bills.

“It’s groundbreaking because it is emerging technology,” said Eric Jung, the president and CEO of NREMC.

The battery storage, which will be the largest in the region, will allow the export of power onto the grid during times of peak demand or weather-related disruptions.

“If we were to lose our transmission service, which we receive from Indiana Michigan Power, we will be able to discharge the batteries for a period of approximately three hours maybe four hours, and keep those people in service, even without the transmission from the larger grid,” said Jung.

Jung explained that the systems are six 40-foot long storage containers that will be “packed to the brim with batteries.” They will recharge when power rates are lower, which is why this is so cost-efficient.

“So the concept is, we’ll charge up the batteries when power is cheap, and we’ll discharge them at peak times during the middle afternoons in the summer and early mornings in the winter,” said Jung.

Consumer rates should benefit from the technology. Jung says the batteries will reduce the rate increase by two to three percent.

“It will impact the cooperative as a whole as a cooperative of course as our costs increase those have to be passed along to the members, as we can decrease those it will decrease the cost for everyone.,” said Jung.

He says this will directly impact several thousand households that would be on substations that will be connected to these projects.

NREMC will break ground on the first two battery sites next summer at cooperative substations in Perry Township in Allen County, and Jefferson Township in Whitley County.

“Somewhere around the November time frame we found out that we could have this installed, before the summer cooling season in July, said Jung. “So that’s our time frame now we’re trying to push to have this done no later than June 30.”

The total project will encompass five sites when complete. Jung says the remaining three projects will be spread into 2022 and 2023.

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