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EPB Energizes UET Flow Battery to Better Serve Customers and Support National Grid Modernization Efforts

EPB Energizes Flow Battery to Better Serve Customers

and Support National Grid Modernization Efforts

Chattanooga, TN (September 22, 2017) – EPB has energized a 100kW/400kWh Vanadium Redox Flow Battery as part of a national research effort to explore the best use of cutting edge technologies that could be implemented across the United States to modernize the power grid.

Because Chattanooga’s power distribution infrastructure combines a community-wide fiber optics network with more than 1,200 automated power management devices to form one of the most advanced smart grids in the country, we are well-positioned to serve as a living laboratory for testing new technologies and developing best practices that will help other utilities modernize their infrastructure,” said EPB Board of Directors Chairman Joe Ferguson. “EPB thanks its partners for joining with us in an effort to better serve our local customers while conducting research that will benefit people across the United States.”

EPB’s project constitutes a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as part of the DOE’s Grid Modernization Lab Consortium (GMLC) program.  The goal of the GMLC is to develop and test new technologies that can enhance the flexibility and resiliency of the national power grid.  The battery system for the EPB project is provided by UniEnergy Technologies (UET), a U.S. manufacturer.

“This new battery system is a good example of how basic energy research at our national laboratories can bring together businesses and utilities to develop and deploy new energy technologies,” said U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. “I applaud Chattanooga’s Electric Power Board, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and UniEnergy Technologies for working to solve an urgent problem facing this country – how to make sure we can store the energy we produce and use it when we need it.  Researchers at our national laboratories will now be able to study how this battery system performs in the real world and make this technology even better – modernizing our nation’s electricity grid to make it more reliable and responsive to customers.”

 “It will come as no surprise to our community that Chattanooga and EPB are continuing to play an important role in the modernization of our country’s power grid,” said U.S. Senator Bob Corker. “Through this partnership, we will be able to better understand energy storage and test new technologies in an effort to bring resilient and affordable electricity to Americans. An extensive and reliable grid is critical for a 21st century economy, and I thank EPB, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and their partners for their work to improve our nation’s infrastructure.”

Installed at the site of EPB’s Solar Share community solar array in Chattanooga, the battery system is a pilot project to explore how large-scale energy storage can be integrated with smart grid automation to provide consistent output from highly variable power generation sources like solar as well as how these devices could be used as a “battery backup” to reduce the impact of outages. In addition, the advanced flow battery has the capacity to store bulk energy during off-peak hours when fewer customers are using it so that the power can be released to meet needs during times of higher power demand.

“This battery storage project is a great example of why I have worked so hard to build bridges between Chattanooga and Oak Ridge National Lab,” said U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann. “Through this initiative, we have the opportunity to enhance our local power distribution infrastructure for the benefit of people in our hometown community while advancing the national effort to modernize the grid.”

"This project is a wonderful example of what can happen when local and national entities work together," said U.S. Representative Diane Black. "As a result of thoughtful collaboration, this community is not only enhancing local power distribution infrastructure, but also contributing to the national effort to modernize and improve the reliability of the power grid.  President Trump's Department of Energy is truly reaching out to partner with Tennessee to improve energy production."

EPB will use the battery system for a wide variety of applications including solar integration, voltage regulation, back-up power, advanced microgrid operations and energy management.  Working closely with the national laboratories, EPB will hone the control strategies used to operate and maximize the value proposition for utilizing battery systems.  The utility and the labs will also collaborate to quantify and analyze the different benefits from the project to EPB’s customers.

“This installation combines cutting edge, long duration storage technology with an outstanding communication network,” said Dr. Imre Gyuk, Director of Energy Storage Research in DOE’s Office of Electricity. “Chattanooga will serve as an example of innovative electrical infrastructure for Tennessee and the Nation.”

“Our partnership with EPB continues to create exciting opportunities to enhance the security and resilience of the electric grid,” said Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “This project is leveraging our shared strengths in sensing and measurement, advanced control concepts, and cybersecurity to explore the potential value of this emerging technology for the region and the nation.”

The advanced vanadium flow battery technology utilized in the UET system was developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, with the support of the DOE Office of Electricity.  Sandia National Laboratories has assessed the technology’s applications in the U.S. and globally.  Starting in 2012, UET commercialized that technology into grid-scale containerized flow battery products, with 380 megawatt-hours of systems deployed, contracted, and awarded in 3 countries and 6 U.S. states.  UET’s technology features no degradation of power or energy, unrestricted cycles, and 20+ year life.

Our community is proud to once again serve as a testing ground for advanced technology and infrastructure,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “I hope other researchers and entrepreneurs will continue to think of the Chattanooga area as an ideal place to develop and launch new products and technologies.”

This project is the next step in EPB’s continuing effort to serve our customers by providing world-class energy solutions as the electric industry undergoes rapid change,” said David Wade, president and CEO of EPB. “As it becomes possible to deploy large-scale battery storage throughout our system, I envision a time when we can further reduce the number of customers impacted by outages. As our community becomes more dependent on solar power generation, we will be able to keep power flowing consistently when clouds cause solar generation to drop off suddenly. I can even foresee a future when it is possible for us to utilize energy storage to reduce the need to make massive investments in building or replacing power generation plants.”

About EPB

Established as an independent board of the City of Chattanooga in 1935, EPB is a municipally-owned utility that provides electric power and fiber optic communications services as a means of promoting economic development and enhancing quality of life across the local area. 

EPB serves nearly 180,000 homes and businesses in a 600 square-mile area that includes greater Chattanooga, as well as parts of surrounding counties and areas of North Georgia. 

In 2010, EPB became the first provider in the United States to deliver up to 1 Gig (1,000 mbps) internet speeds utilizing a community-wide fiber optic network that provides access to every home and business in its service area. In 2015, EPB became the first, and to date, only American ISP to launch a 10 Gig (10,000 mbps) internet product as a standard offer accessible to all of its residential and commercial customers. 

EPB has also utilized its community-wide fiber optic network to deploy the most advanced and highly automated smart grid power management system in the nation. In recognition of EPB’s groundbreaking infrastructure, the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are utilizing EPB’s smart grid as a national model for researching and developing best practices for implementing and utilizing a variety of technologies. EPB is also the first major power distribution utility to earn the USGBC’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid. For more information, go to EPB.com

About UniEnergy Technologies (UET)

Located in Seattle, WA, UET engineers, manufactures, and supports compact megawatt (MW)-scale containerized vanadium flow battery systems.  The core technology is a mixed acid vanadium electrolyte which was developed at PNNL, with the support of the DOE Office of Electricity.  The new generation electrolyte provides almost double the energy density, and a much broader range of operating temperature (-40°F to 120°F) over earlier flow batteries. Founded in 2012, UET has grown from a start-up company commercializing the PNNL technology, to a global company leading in the deployment of MW-scale flow batteries.  UET’s systems feature no degradation of power or energy, unrestricted duty cycle, and 20+ year life.

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