The country’s largest combined municipal solar field and energy storage facility, located in Minster, Ohio, held its official ribbon cutting on May 6, 2016, to start bringing expected energy stability, sustainability and cost saving benefits to the village. The project, which was developed by Bricker client American Renewable Energy and Power, is an innovative approach to servicing energy customers:
- The facility includes a 4.3 MW solar field combined with 7 MW/h of battery storage.
- The Village of Minster entered into a power purchase agreement to take advantage of solar power benefits, minimize up-front expenditures and outsource operation and maintenance costs.
- By including energy storage in its development of a solar power system, the village is expected to save $350,000 in transmission and distribution costs.
- The solar field began generating in December 2015.
- The batteries started participating in the PJM frequency regulation market in May 2016.
(Additional project background can be found here.)
Of particular significance, the battery storage component makes the project an attractive investment, because it enables an additional set of services to the village and enhances the benefits of the solar project. In effect, the battery storage component allows “revenue stacking,” which reduces the time it takes for the project to pay for itself. Others are eager to replicate it, especially at a time when electricity rates are volatile and unpredictable. Adding solar to a power portfolio can act as a hedge against market volatility because, unlike conventional fuels, the cost of fuel is not variable. Additionally, projects like this enable environmentally conscious communities to achieve sustainability goals.