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In addition to providing backup power for critical emergency response services, projected revenues from utilizing the batteries for grid services are expected to result in a payback period of less than seven years.

Sterling Municipal Substation

Sterling, Massachusetts

A new solar+storage project provides vital resiliency and economic benefits to the town of Sterling, Massachusetts. The system, which is owned by Sterling Municipal Light Department (SMLD), provides emergency backup power to the town’s critical facilities providing first responder services in the event of a grid outage, and provides electricity cost savings to ratepayers.  The project was supported by Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity (DOE-OE), Sandia National Laboratories, Clean Energy States Alliance, Clean Energy Group, and the Barr Foundation.

Sterling Municipal Light Department has deployed a 2-megawatt/3.9 megawatt-hour battery storage system at Sterling’s Chocksett Road Substation that is able to isolate from the main grid in the event of a power outage and, with an existing PV array, provide up to 12 days of emergency backup power to the Sterling police station and dispatch center, a community facility providing first responder services.

As important as it is to provide clean, resilient power to essential community facilities such as the Sterling police station, it is equally important to show that energy storage is an economical way to do this. For this reason, the project received funding from DOE-OE under its energy storage demonstration program. A key feature of the project, which DOE-OE and Sandia National Laboratories are supporting, is to demonstrate and analyze the economic case for the batteries.

By discharging the batteries during hours of peak electricity demand, Sterling is able to significantly reduce its costs for electricity capacity and transmission services. These are monthly and annual fees the utility pays to ISO New England, the regional independent grid operator, and they make up a large and growing portion of the cost of doing business as a utility in the region. Sandia has calculated that through peak shaving and other cost saving uses of the batteries, Sterling should be able to pay off its new energy storage system in fewer than seven years. Thereafter, additional cost savings should lower rates for Sterling’s ratepayers.

Construction began in the fall of 2016, and the project was completed and commissioned in December 2016. This project is the first utility-scale energy storage facility in the state and one of the largest battery installations of its kind in New England.

Additional Resources

  • A fact sheet about this project is available here.
  • Read an October 2016 blog post about the project here, and read an April 2017 blog post about the project here.
  • CESA hosted a webinar about this project in October 2016 – watch it here.
  • A video recording of the October 12, 2016 groundbreaking ceremony for this project is available here.
  • This project was awarded a 2017 Grid Edge Award by Greentech Media. Read more here.

UPCOMING WEBINAR: The Value Proposition for Energy Storage at the Sterling Municipal Light Department, Thursday, April 27, 2-3:30pm ET. Read more and register here.

Installation Details

Year Commissioned: 2016

Services Provided: Backup power, Demand management, Demand response, Renewables integration, Microgrid

Supported Infrastructure: Police station and dispatch center

Solar: 2 MW (existing)

Storage: 2MW/3.9MWh lithium ion battery

Project Partners: Sterling Municipal Light Department, Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, US Department of Energy Office of Electricity, Sandia National Laboratories, Clean Energy States Alliance, Clean Energy Group

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