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Duke Energy Places Advanced Microgrid into Service in Hot Springs, NC

02 Feb 2023

Duke Energy has placed into service one of the nation's most advanced green microgrids in the Madison County town of Hot Springs. The Hot Springs microgrid consists of a 2-megawatt (AC) solar facility and a 4.4-megawatt lithium-based battery storage facility. The microgrid not only provides a safe, cost-effective and reliable grid solution for serving the Hot Springs area, but it will also provide energy and additional bulk system benefits for all customers.

This will include reliability services to the electric grid, such as frequency and voltage regulation and ramping support and capacity during system peaks.

"Duke Energy has numerous smaller microgrids on our system, but this is our first microgrid that can power an entire small town if its main power line experiences an outage," said Jason Handley, general manager, Distributed Energy Group.

Hot Springs, with a population of just over 500, has limited rerouting options should an outage occur. During its testing phase, Duke Energy's microgrid was able to pick up the town's entire load from a black start without any help from the energy grid – using only the solar and battery storage to restore power. The microgrid served the town's load while the company gathered data.

"Through energy storage and microgrids, Duke Energy can enable the integration of more renewables onto the grid and help improve reliability while keeping costs affordable for customers and the communities we serve," added Handley.

Duke Energy worked with the technology company Wärtsilä, who supplied the battery energy storage system for the project. The microgrid utilizes Wärtsilä's sophisticated energy management system, the GEMS Digital Energy Platform, for integrated control of both the solar and energy storage facilities.

"The Hot Springs inverter-only-based community microgrid is a great step forward for Duke Energy and our customers. This project has reduced the need for equipment upgrades in an environmentally sensitive area," added Handley. "We are using lessons learned from this first-of-its-kind installation to take to our other microgrids under construction in Indiana and Florida. At a larger scale, microgrids bring more resiliency to the energy grid for our customers."

Duke Energy has been active with microgrids and battery storage, with over 60 megawatts connected throughout Duke Energy's regulated areas. In Asheville, Duke Energy operates a 9-megawatt lithium-ion battery system at a substation site in the Rock Hill community – near Sweeten Creek Road. In Haywood County, the company has a 3.8-kilowatt-hour lithium iron phosphate battery and 10-kilowatt solar DC microgrid installation serving a communications tower on Mount Sterling in the Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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