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Energy Storage and Demand Response for improved reliability in an outage-prone community

Lead proponent:  BC Hydro
Location:  Golden and Field, British Columbia
CEF contribution:  $ 6.495 M
Project total:  $ 13.49 M

Project Background:

Photo depicting NaS battery and Storage Management System

NaS battery (right) and Storage Management System (left) located inside the prefabricated building in Field, BC

BC Hydro provides electricity to about 95% of the province of British Columbia.The utility operates 31 hydroelectric facilities and 3 thermal generating plants.  BC Hydro’s Golden substation (GDN) supplies power to the town of Golden and surrounding areas (including the community of Field) via four radial feeders. Field is located 57 kilometres east of Golden within the boundaries of Canada’s Yoho National Park and has 155 BC Hydro residential and commercial accounts. The electricity supply for Field is provided by a single 25 kV, 55 km long distribution feeder, which is prone to frequent power outages of significant duration.  The distribution line passes through challenging terrain subject to severe environmental conditions with natural vegetation resulting in falling trees. In addition the line travels alongside the Canadian Pacific Railway line, requiring coordination with train schedules for all line repairs.

In order to mitigate reliability issues at Field, BC Hydro evaluated alternatives such as battery storage and diesel generation.  Because the cleaner battery option was preferred, BC Hydro put forward the “Energy Storage and Demand Response for Improved Reliability in an Outage-prone Community” project for funding consideration through the Clean Energy Fund (CEF). The project was awarded $5.98M to install a 1 MW battery energy storage system (BESS) in order to provide clean back-up power and enhance customer supply reliability for the community of Field.


BC Hydro selected both the battery and system integrator through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.  NGK Insulators’ sodium-sulphur (NaS) battery was selected because it met performance and cost criteria.  S&C Electric was chosen because of its previous experience with sodium sulfur BESS installations.

Site preparation started in the summer of 2011 and was completed by September that same year.  However, construction activities were suspended in October, when NGK advised BC Hydro of a fire at one of their battery sites in Japan.  Work on the battery project recommenced in July 2012, after the cause of the fire was investigated and safety measures were reviewed.  A new building was constructed, and the batteries were installed along with the auxiliary systems (including building air handling system, electrical distribution, and propane generator set).

Commissioning of the BESS consisted of testing the system’s response to two major events: a loss of normal utility power on the 25 kV system upstream of the IntelliRupter, and the restoration of power. IntelliRupter PulseCloser is S&C’s alternative to circuit reclosers – it provides fault isolation and circuit restoration functions on an overhead distribution system.  On July 11, 2013, the BESS became operational and started delivering clean, back-up power.  A notification system for customers on battery system status was subsequently added.

Benefits to Canada:

The community of Field has benefited from this clean source of back-up power, and Canada has benefited from avoided GHG emissions.  As the prices of battery systems reduce, replication of the BESS may be possible for remote communities that are at the end of a feeder line, in order to improve feeder reliability.  The experience and knowledge gained in the deployment of battery energy storage for peak shaving and islanding (for back-up power) can be applied towards any future battery storage projects in B.C. and across Canada.

Next Steps:

BC Hydro will continue to monitor the performance of the battery system availability and efficiency over the life of the battery. Since the BESS was put into operation, it has been available 95.6% of the time to supply power to the town of Field.

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