NYISO looks to add flywheel, battery technologies to the grid

EAST GREENBUSH, NEW YORK - New York Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that oversees the state's wholesale electric markets, is moving to allow flywheel and battery technologies to be connected to the grid.

The addition would mean a 20-megawatt flywheel project being built in Stephentown, Rensselaer County, could be used to help meet the state's energy needs.

Flywheels are mechanical batteries that use kinetic energy to store electricity from the grid that otherwise would be wasted. When the energy is needed, the systems can send it back onto the grid.

Although the flywheel concept is ancient, today's flywheel technology uses heavy wheels that spin at more than 20,000 revolutions per minute from power drawn from the grid.

The spinning wheels, which are in cylinders inside an enclosed facility, act as generators that can supply electricity back to the grid when needed.

Such on-demand electricity supply is called "regulation" service that balances variances in supply and demand on the grid.

NYISO spokesman Ken Klapp said most regulation service is done today by fossil-fuel plants. But flywheel and other technologies could also provide that electricity with a renewable and nonpolluting process.

"You're really relying on fossil-fuel units for doing this," Klapp said.

Stephen Whitley, president of the East Greenbush-based NYISO, has been pushing renewable-energy technologies to help share production for the state's electric grid. He has been encouraging wind especially, and now wants to introduce these new technologies, which are called limited-energy storage resources.

"These new resources are ideal for responding to the moment-to-moment adjustments needed to operate the bulk electricity grid," Whitley said in a statement.

NYISO filed a new set of rules and regulations, known as a tariff, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 19 to allow flywheels and other technologies to provide such regulation service. The agency hope to have the approval in place by mid-May.

The company developing the project in Stephentown, Beacon Power Corp. of Tyngsboro, Mass., did not return a call seeking comment on the status of the facility. The company reported to investors earlier this month that it has received all the permits it needs for the project.


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