Nevada County Board of Supervisors seeks power grid solution | TheUnion.com

Nevada County Board of Supervisors seeks power grid solution

John Orona
Staff Writer

In an effort to advance the conversation on power grid solutions, the Nevada County supervisors are throwing their support behind a company hoping for a grant to produce scalable, kinetic energy storing battery units to provide stability in the wake of future PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-offs.

At its meeting Tuesday, supervisors voted to approve a letter of support for Burlingame-based energy storage company Spin Storage Systems in their grant application to the California Energy Commission for field testing of emerging energy storage technologies.

Spin’s kinetic battery stores electricity in the inertia of moving mass spinning around an axis instead of using electrochemistry, according to its website. While the technology is not new, recent advancements have lowered costs of deployment and made kinetic batteries more efficient through magnetic bearings which allow rotational energy with no friction.

The storage capabilities make the technology attractive for renewable energy regulation, allowing a solar or wind system to capture and store energy during peak production. One battery unit produced by Spin is about the size of a washing machine and could power a household but can also be combined to scale for commercial or industrial use.

“Recent PSPS events have demonstrated how susceptible our community is as a whole,” County Senior Analyst David Jones said. “Unfortunately there is a lack of energy storage options. Many of these storage options require largely expensive lithium-ion batteries and are typically not practical for average- to low-income homeowners.”

If the grant is awarded, the county would collaborate with the company by providing access to sites critical to supporting Nevada County during PSPSs and to any studies or data the county has collected with respect to maintaining critical infrastructure.

In return, Spin will provide technology-neutral reports on those sites, what their requirements are, what they need to be supported and maintained during a PSPS.

“If this grant is successful, the County of Nevada could be a testing ground via pilot deployment of Spin’s kinetic energy storage solution,” Jones said.

While the county is hoping to use the project as a proof of concept and to gather more data, down the road it could be used to power community building like the Rood Administrative Center or the Veteran’s Memorial Building.

There is potential for this project to connect with other various renewable energy projects in the county but that is even farther down the road.

The award is anticipated to be awarded in the first week of March.

“I think it’s great that we’re starting to get creative and look for better solutions to the PSPS’s that we expect to continue,” Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Heidi Hall said.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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