Funding for a battery energy storage system demonstration project is being sought by the Nebraska Public Power District and the City of Norfolk that would be tied to a proposed community solar project planned for Norfolk in 2019.

The project is contingent on approval of a grant application submitted by NPPD to receive $490,000 in funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the two-year project.

NPPD officials said they expect a decision on whether the grant has been awarded in April 2019.

If selected to receive funds, the demonstration project would be tied to a proposed community solar facility to be built in Norfolk and would be similar to the facility already operating in Kearney.

The City of Norfolk has committed to participate in the funding request as a grant partner and would be providing in-kind support providing the land for the project site, weekly inspections, and guiding public tours.

Dave Rich, NPPD’s sustainable energy manager, said that the demonstration project would be charged through the solar unit and discharged daily to accomplish several goals.

“Some of those would be related to demand management, voltage support and smoothing and shifting variable renewable energy generation,” he said.

The unit would store approximately the amount of electricity that a small home would use over the course of two months.

“Northeast Nebraska leads the state in renewable energy generation,” said Josh Moenning, mayor of Norfolk. “This first-of-its kind battery storage project positions Norfolk to lead the way in using the newest technologies to efficiently utilize renewable energy that’s created in our own backyard, keeps our electricity costs low, and grows new jobs and strengthens our regional economy.”

Rich said that knowledge gained from the demonstration project could be reproduced by other Nebraska electrical utilities.

The first year of the demonstration project would provide a summary of distribution benefits to NPPD’s wholesale and retail customers and members of the Nebraska Power Association, while the second year would provide a summary of production benefits.

If the grant is awarded to Norfolk and the community solar project moves forward, such a facility would probably be in operation sometime in late 2019.

“A key problem with electric generation is the U.S. electric grid has virtually no storage capacity, so grid operators can’t stockpile a surplus of clean energy and deliver it when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining,” Rich said. “Battery storage could be a step forward in this area.”

In other news

It appears the Norfolk community and the four counties in the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department already are adhering to many new public restrictions being enacted, such as no sit-down gatherings at restaurants and bars.

NORFOLK — The City of Norfolk, in cooperation with Madison County, the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department and Faith Regional Health Services, will hold a press conference on Monday, March 30, at 4 p.m. in the Norfolk City Council Chambers.