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IID readies for solar eclipse
In preparation for the “Great American Solar Eclipse,” IID grid operators are looking to IID’s new battery energy storage system and its recently refurbished natural gas peaker plants in Niland to fill gaps in solar power generation during the eclipse. At the height of the event, operators expect the loss of the sun to reduce solar generation by as much as 58 percent in IID’s service territory on Monday.
“We are in a good position to weather through the downturn,” said Matthew Smelser, IID’s assistant energy manager who oversees grid operations. “With a high percentage of renewables interconnected to our system, the district recognized early on how important it would be for us to have backup technology and fast ramping generation to fill in gaps associated with intermittent resources.”
The eclipse is expected to start impacting the IID service area just after 9 a.m. Monday, August 21. Generation losses are expected to increase for an hour and a half, with the district losing as much as 65-80 megawatts of solar output from utility grade solar and rooftop solar systems. Losses are then expected to taper down with the grid returning to normal conditions around noon.
“Our operators are trained and ready for events such as this,” said Smelser. “That’s part of being our own balancing authority. It’s our job to balance the power 24/7 and ensure reliable service for all our customers.”
IID grid operators will utilize a combination of resources to combat generation losses. Options include IID’s award-winning battery storage, a 33 MVA lithium-ion system that was energized in October 2016 and has been recognized as one of the largest of its kind in the Western United States. The district also expects to use its Niland peaker plants. Constructed in 2008, the two 45 megawatt, simple-cycle, natural gas-fired turbines underwent significant refurbishment earlier this year and are currently operating at optimal levels.
While the district has enough power supply to make up for lost solar production during the eclipse, Smelser stressed the importance of customers using energy wisely. “Living in the desert, conservation is always a good idea. It reduces emissions and takes strain off the power grid.”
For additional information about the eclipse and its path across the United States, please visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/.