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marcus evans

October 29, 2015 15:00 ET

Municipal Utilities and Electric Energy Storage: A Budding Relationship?

Interview with Lincoln Bleveans, Power Resources Manager, Burbank Water and Power

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - October 29, 2015) - Energy Storage is constantly evolving with an increasing amount of deployments and rapidly new emerging technologies. While prices of some of these technologies have decreased, there are still concerns about cost and case build, implementation and lifecycle, as well as rate structures and regulations.

Lincoln, Power Resources Manager at Burbank Water and Power, recently spoke with marcus evans about topics to be discussed at the upcoming 6th Annual Electric Energy Storage Conference:

As a municipal utility how does the California Renewable mandate increase affect Burbank Water and Power differently than an Investor Owned Utility (IOU)?

LB: We have many of the same requirements that the IOUs do with respect to achieving 50% RPS by 2030, but we go about it in different ways. From a procurement standpoint, we are a member of the Southern California Public Power Authority and work through their annual renewable RFP to identify, vet, and contract for renewable power. And approval for those contracts goes through our City Council, not the CPUC as it does for the IOUs. Finally, unlike the IOUs, BWP is not a member of the CAISO. Instead, BWP has a contractually determined set of regional transmission rights on certain transmission assets operated by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So we tend to look at renewable generation that can match up with our transmission rights.

With the appetite being more for Flow & Li-On battery systems and still very few CAES (Compressed Air Energy Storage) Systems in deployment, do you see battery chemistries winning out, which one, and systems like Pumped Hydro and CAES going by the wayside?

LB: I don't see the market as a "winner take all" but rather as "horses for courses." First define the need, then define the solution -- and reliable power systems have very many, very different needs.

Batteries offer increasingly cost-effective, site-agnostic storage capabilities, but in small amounts of power, over short durations, and without inertia. And that cost-effectiveness only goes so far, as battery lives are currently less than 10 years in real-world operation. Pumped storage and CAES, on the other hand, are more expensive to build and depend on specific site conditions. That said, they offer long duration storage of significant amounts of power, inertia for frequency response, more attractive operating costs, and operating lives of 40+ years.

I see both types of storage playing an important role for BWP, and for the electric system as a whole. But in different roles.

Does Burbank Water and Power offer customer sited storage or microgrids as a service?

LB: We are evaluating the role of Distributed Energy Resources as an active element of distribution systems and we are participating in the efforts of the California Energy Commission and California Public Utility Commission as well as other utilities, solar energy providers, electric vehicle service providers, and policy experts. In addition, we are considering how heating and HVAC can better implement storage.

Does Burbank Water and Power utilize any type of storage technology to balance fluctuations in demand throughout a given day (i.e., balance the 'duck curve')?

LB: We do not currently but are actively investigating storage solutions.

As a member of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Balancing Authority (and not the California Independent System Operator's balancing authority), we work to balance our own Area Control Error for Burbank in real-time. As we add more dynamically scheduled intermittent renewables to our power supply portfolio, we will need storage -- large and small, at the transmission level and within Burbank -- to help manage Burbank's ACE.

Lincoln Bleveans is a 20-year veteran of the global power industry. He has spent the majority of his career developing greenfield independent power projects, first in China, India, and Southeast Asia and later in Central America, North Africa, the Middle East, and the US. He also has significant experience in acquiring and divesting operating projects as well as equity-side project work-outs. He is now much less jet-lagged as Power Resources Manager for Burbank Water and Power, a progressive vertically integrated municipal utility. At BWP, he has broad responsibility for long-term power and transmission, natural gas and biomethane, RPS and GHG compliance, day-ahead marketing and trading, integrated resource planning, and energy storage. He is also a member of the Advisory Board at Oscilla Power, an ocean wave energy technology start-up.

Join Lincoln at the 6th Annual Electric Energy Storage Conference, January 13-14, 2016 in San Diego, CA. View the conference agenda to check out Lincoln's case study topic. For more information, please contact Tyler Kelch, Digital Marketing Manager, marcus evans at 312.894.6310 or

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