Green Schools

Downey Unified Adds Energy Storage

Efforts are underway to install and deploy battery energy storage systems at the schools in Downey Unified School District. The California school system will be working with ENGIE Storage to install 3.5 megawatts of energy storage at seven campus sites to capture power generated by the district's solar installation

The promise is that the use of the battery storage systems will cut the district's electricity bills by reducing demand charges during peak times, which are assessed based on spikes in electricity usage caused by such usage as air conditioning and stadium lighting. According to ENGIE, demand charges can account for about half of non-residential utility bill costs for customers in California.

Downey Unified expected to save $5.7 million over the lifetime of the system, which was funded through the use of the state's Proposition 39 dollars. While it was in effect, Prop 39, the Clean Energy Jobs Act K-12 Program, awarded funding to schools to plan and install energy efficiency upgrades and other clean energy generation measures. (Current projects are in the construction and reporting phase.)

"Our Board of Education is always looking for creative ways to save money and energy storage will provide our district with utility cost savings," said Downey Unified Superintendent, John Garcia, in a statement. "Installing energy storage will not only reduce our energy bills significantly this year, it will assist for years to come."

ENGIE's GridSynergy system uses historical and real-time data to continually calculate optimal charge and discharge cycles for the lithium-ion batteries. The company said its technology has been installed in some 80 schools in the state.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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