Utility opens battery facility on college campus


Courtesy Consumers Energy

A utility has launched a new facility for “large-scale” battery power at a college in the region.

Jackson-based Consumers Energy said last month it started operation of a new battery on Western Michigan University’s Parkview Campus in Kalamazoo, on the northwest corner of South Drake Road and Parkview Avenue.

The battery facility houses a one-megawatt-hour battery that could store enough energy to power 1,000 homes at any time.

"Advances in battery storage technology have now reached the scale that they power entire communities on demand," said Tim Sparks, VP of electric grid integration, Consumers Energy.

"The Parkview battery project begins the next groundbreaking chapter in the story about how clean and reliable energy reaches Consumers Energy customers."

The WMU Parkview battery site was selected through a statewide search in consultation with Michigan State University.

Over the next year, Consumers Energy and MSU consultants will study data generated at the Parkview Campus battery facility to better understand and utilize the potential for battery storage around the state. 

WMU engineering students will also have opportunities to participate in partnerships with Consumers Energy on electric battery research and operations.

About 867 megawatt hours of utility-scale battery capacity exists in the U.S., based on technology similar to the Parkview Campus battery, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Large-scale batteries can also support wind and solar plant electric production when declining winds and clouds reduce output for short periods and could threaten reliability.

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