Wind Energy to be Stored in
by Tom Banse
OLYMPIA, WA - One hundred homeowners are being recruited for an experiment on how to store surplus wind power. Starting next month, the Bonneville Power Administration and a local utility will link up home water heaters to wind farms east of the Cascades. Correspondent Tom Banse explains how this is supposed to work. [:55... soq]
Here's the problem. Wind power is variable. Sometimes wind turbines spin away when there's little demand for the electricity. Other times it's calm just when everyone wants to crank up the AC. Ideally, you could store excess wind energy in a battery. But a battery that big doesn't exist yet. So Bonneville Power Administration spokeswoman Katie Pruder-Scruggs describes another idea that will get a tryout this fall.
Katie Pruder-Scruggs: "What you can do is store that energy in water heaters in the form of hot water. Or at least, that's what we're testing."
The Mason County, Washington public utility will outfit 100 volunteer households with special "smart grid" devices. Those will signal electric water heaters to fire up when there is surplus wind power that would otherwise go to waste. The volunteers will be monitored for about a year to see if they always have hot water when they want it.
Homeowners interested in participating in this wind energy storage experiment need to be customers of Mason County PUD #3 in the Shelton, WA area. If you want to volunteer your electric water heater, contact the power supply department through the utility's main number: (360) 426-8255.
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