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ODEC Awarded U.S. Department of Energy Grant for Battery Project on Smith Island

Old Dominion Electric Cooperative has been selected to receive federal funding to develop an innovative energy battery project on Smith Island in Somerset County, Md., from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The project was one of 15 that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. ODEC’s project will improve grid resiliency for Smith Island, Md., and Tangier Island, Va., in the Chesapeake Bay, and will contribute to national research on long-duration energy storage solutions to boost renewable energy deployment across the country.

“ODEC is honored to be selected by DOE and excited about the possibilities of pioneering energy innovation and grid resilience simultaneously,” says Chris Cosby, senior vice president of power supply at ODEC. “The Smith Island battery project will enable ODEC to  provide more reliable, clean power during hurricane season, winter storms and other outages to our most remote members at the end of the line.”

The federal funding will be negotiated this fall as part of $325 million available from DOE Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), with funds designated explicitly to advance battery technologies capable of delivering electricity for 10 to 24 hours or longer. The Smith Island project will aim for a battery discharging 700 kW of electricity for up to 18 hours and is part of a joint submission receiving funds to help bring cutting-edge, long- duration energy storage to five electric cooperative-served communities.

“Batteries that have the ability to store and release energy at controlled times have great potential to benefit Smith and Tangier islands,” says Butch Williamson, president and CEO of A&N Electric Cooperative. A&N is the distribution cooperative serving the islands, which are connected to the Eastern Shore mainland by underwater electric cables.

The National Renewable Cooperative Organization (NRCO) applied for the DOE funds with five generation cooperatives. Aligning to the cooperative principle of concern for community, NRCO and its participating member cooperatives will engage relevant stakeholders and uphold local values and priorities, while also providing citizens with a voice throughout the process.

“Electric cooperatives are an integral part of the communities they serve, and as not-for-profit organizations, their actions are rooted in doing what’s best for people and the community,” says Mike Keyser, president and CEO of the NRCO. “This chapter of the story is about co-ops bringing innovation to rural America that provides new economic opportunities while also enhancing grid resilience and charting a path to a cleaner energy future.”

The five projects were selected with attention to disadvantaged populations within each cooperatives’ rural service area, and represent different regions of the country with distinct climate profiles. and resilience challenges.

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and I’m proud to have helped secure federal funds to spur clean energy innovation and resiliency efforts on Tangier Island. I’m glad to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continue to support projects across the commonwealth,” says U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is critical to helping us boost clean energy production, improve energy storage, and help ensure communities can access the power they need day and night,” says U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine. “I’m glad the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative is receiving this funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build a long-term energy storage system to help more communities, including Virginians on Tangier Island, access reliable energy.”

This project will also serve as a source of data for the DOE’s Rapid Operational Validation Initiative. The technology provider, Invinity Energy Systems, is a global leader in the production of vanadium flow batteries with high efficiency and long lifespans. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will carry out the techno-economic analyses and data collection for the project to inform decision-making and provide valuable insights into the potential benefits of VFBs.