Cordova cuts ribbon on new energy future

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CORDOVA, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and energy leaders were in Cordova, Alaska over the weekend for the ribbon cutting of Cordova Electric Cooperative's battery energy storage system.

Senator Lisa Murkowski and energy leaders were in Cordova, Alaska over the weekend for the ribbon cutting of Cordova Electric Cooperative's battery energy storage system.

Dr. Imre Gyuk, Director of the Energy Storage Program at the Office of Electricity, Department of Energy, has been working in energy storage for around twenty years. Gyuk says his program works to find locations to deploy battery energy storage systems that have a positive business.

"This particular project will link hydropower with storage and of course with the grid, and it will make the grid more stable and save money and it will be there in emergencies and keep the grid going, even under adverse circumstances," said Gyuk.

Hydropower produces 70% of Cordova's energy, while diesel fills in the gap producing 30% of their energy. "Hydropower is a key ingredient to Cordova being one of the largest seafood fishing ports in the United States, when we built this project for $24 million dollars in 2002, it stabilized our cost of energy, we were actually able to reduce our cost of energy, and that allowed our processors to invest in on shore processing, so we have now become the 13th, sometimes as high as the 4th or 5th largest seafood port in the united states, and this available abundant inexpensive hydropower is one of the reasons we got there," said Koplin.

In the summers, the fishing industry and processing plants produce a higher demand on the energy grid, and the load goes up and down, Koplin says the battery will help them cut down the amount of times they have to start and stop the diesel generator in half.

"Really what the battery is doing is becoming the electric shock absorber for our whole grid, so it can manage the increases and fluctuations in power use in our community, we were using our hydropower to do that, so that new battery that we have is freeing up 500 kilowatts of renewable energy at this project, so our battery project really looks like a hydropower project, 500 kilowatts is enough to provide energy to our high school, elementary school, grocery store, hospital, and our Cordova community center all at once," said Koplin.

With the investment into the battery, they're hoping to store that hydropower and reduce having to fall back on diesel.

Gyuk refers to Mayor and CEO of Cordova Electric Cooperative Clay Koplin as a 'local champion,' for all of the work he has put into expanding their energy program in Cordova. Gyuk and Senator Lisa Murkowski both refer to Cordova as being at the forefront of energy in the country.

The goal for the Cordova Electric Cooperative is to be 90% renewable by 2025 but Koplin says they have a few projects in the pipeline that might help them reach 100% renewable by 2025. The battery project is part of their grid modernization project 'RADIANCE,' working together with the Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, five universities around the country, and three national labs.