Battery-storage system could save millions

Think of the battery-energy-storage system (BESS) that officials at Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative are considering as an uninterruptable power source (UPS) on a computer.

In a fraction of a second, the UPS responds to an interruption in electrical power, allowing computer users to quickly save work on their screens.

The BESS works the same way, capable of helping KIUC officials avoid island-wide or neighborhood outages by having a dependable backup ready if the fossil-fuel-powered generators go down, or any other unexpected situation arises, proponents said.

The BESS will increase the dependability of KIUC’s already-pretty-dependable electricitydelivery system, and pay for itself in saved fuel charges in a few years, say co-op experts who have experience with BESS.

Essentially, BESS is a bank of large batteries sufficient to keep the island lit up for a few minutes and prevent a major, island-wide outage as happened last Saturday morning, and buy KIUC technicians a bit of time to figure out what happened and make adjustments without the populace losing power, said Harry A. “Dutch” Achenbach, president and chief executive officer of KIUC (www. kiuc.coop), and Steven Haagenson, president and chief executive officer of Golden Valley Electric Association (www.gvea.com) in Fairbanks, Alaska.

In fact, Achenbach said that, had a BESS been in place on Kaua’i, Saturday’s two-hour, island-wide outage (KIUC engineers still don’t know the cause), and a regional, shorter-duration outage affecting Wailua Homesteads earlier this week, probably wouldn’t have happened.

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