Eversource on Tuesday announced plans to build a large-scale battery in town, with the goal of reducing outages and lowering fossil-fuel use at times of peak demand.
The company is also rolling out a suite of energy-efficiency incentives for customers statewide.
The 1.7-megawatt battery would be built on vacant land leased from Cheshire County at the corner of River Road and Partridge Brook Road, near the base of the Maplewood Nursing Home driveway. The site is down a hill and about a quarter mile from the county-owned nursing home.
“The battery cells will store electricity off the grid when the electricity is lower cost,” Charlotte Ancel, Eversource’s director of clean energy strategy, policy and development, said in an interview Wednesday. “And then it will be able to put electricity out onto the grid both to power customers in the town of Westmoreland in the event of an outage, or to reduce peaks.”
In a news release Tuesday, Eversource said Westmoreland is more prone to outages than other communities, because only one major power line serves the town. In the case of an interruption, the battery would power the whole town for up to four hours at peak electricity usage — and longer during lower-usage times — as crews work to fix the issue.
As for reducing peaks, Ancel said, both energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions rise at the times of highest usage during the summer, because New England’s oil-fired “peakers” switch on to meet the demand. Feeding battery power into the grid should reduce oil burning at those times, according to Ancel.
“Our vision for the future New Hampshire grid is one that’s more distributed, lower carbon and cost effective and more resilient for customers,” she said.
The $7 million battery project would improve reliability, without having to build a new $6 million, 10-mile distribution circuit from Keene, according to Eversource. Though the initial price tag is higher, the battery would result in net savings for New Hampshire customers because of its use during times of peak demand, the company said in its news release.
Eversource plans to include the battery project in an upcoming filing with the N.H. Public Utilities Commission. If the commission approves it, Eversource would begin construction in late 2020, according to the release.
The utility serves nearly 450 customers in Westmoreland.
County Administrator Christopher C. Coates said the county worked with Eversource to find the location. “It’s exciting to us, because we believe it’s cutting edge when it comes to clean-energy solutions,” Coates said.
In a Wednesday morning meeting with the Cheshire County Board of Commissioners, Eversource representatives said the battery would be capable of powering the town during most outages. Westmoreland customers have had 27 outages averaging 2.6 hours each since November 2012, according to the company’s presentation to the commissioners.
Ancel said the battery cells would be stored in sealed containers, and the entire facility would occupy less than an acre.
Along with the battery proposal, Eversource plans to roll out a set of energy-efficiency and related incentives for customers in New Hampshire.
They include energy-bill rebates for customers who choose to grant Eversource remote access to thermostats and electric-vehicle chargers, so the company can make small adjustments a few times a month during times of peak demand.
Ancel said individual customers would barely notice — for example, a home thermostat might shift up or down a few degrees — but in the aggregate, the adjustments would help blunt electricity usage during peak times.
Eversource also plans to offer incentives to customers who install residential-scale batteries.
The incentive programs would roll out by the start of 2020, she said.
The company sees the Westmoreland effort as a pilot and hopes to develop more such projects in the future, Ancel said.
Already, Eversource is in the process of setting up battery facilities in Provincetown, Mass., and on Martha’s Vineyard, both of which would be larger than Westmoreland’s. Those are expected to come online before the New Hampshire project does, Ancel said.