DOE clears the environmental review of a Texas wind/battery project

The U.S. Department of Energy recently issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) related to federal funding help for the Center for Commercialization of Electric Technology’s (CCET) Reese Technology Center Wind and Battery Integration Project in Lubbock County, Texas.

Based on the findings of a final environmental assessment on the project, and after careful consideration of all public and agency comments, DOE said it has determined that its proposed action of providing $1.85m in the form of cost-shared federal funding and CCET’s construction and operation of the RTC Wind and Battery Integration Project would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Therefore, preparation of an environmental impact statement isn’t needed, which saves the project a major amount of time.

In the environmental assessment, DOE analyzed impacts to air quality, noise, aesthetics and visual resources, surface water resources, and biological resources from construction and installation of:

  • above ground and underground distribution lines;
  • a 1.5 MW storage battery facility and foundation;
  • an access road;
  • site clearing; and
  • two wind turbines and pads.

Although DOE would not be funding the wind turbines, the effects were assessed as a connected action.

CCET is a consortium of 15 Texas electric and high-tech companies and five universities with a goal to modernize the Texas electric system. The objective of CCET’s project would be to demonstrate battery technology integration with wind generated electricity by deploying and evaluating utility-scale lithium battery technology to improve grid performance and thereby aid in the integration of wind generation into the local electricity supply.

In 2010, Texas was the first state to reach 10,000 MW of wind capacity, DOE noted, and by 2020 it is expected that wind capacity will increase by an additional 10,000 MW.

“Integrating this increasingly large, fluctuating energy source into the transmission grid, while maintaining system stability and reliability, is a challenge that will face Texas as well as other states as the United States moves to develop more renewable energy sources,” the environmental assessment said. “CCET envisions this being done through better system monitoring capabilities, enhanced operator visualization, and improved load management. To promote and demonstrate these objectives, the proposed project involves two primary components: (1) installation of batteries and distribution lines to transfer power from RTC to Erskine substation (DOE funded) and (2) install two wind turbines to generate energy to be transferred to the Erskine Substation (CCET funded).”

The site chosen for this project is a 30-acre parcel of the existing Reese Technology Center (RTC). A portion of the DOE-funded activity, installation of distribution lines under the CCET project, would occur outside of the RTC. The land cover prior to clearing is disturbed vacant grasslands onsite of the 2,467-acre former Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock County. There would be underground distribution lines that extend to the overhead lines that would transfer energy to the Erskine Substation, about 5.5 miles to the east. With or without DOE funded activities, the area is currently being developed for wind research.

The proposed 1.5-MW storage battery would be housed in a 20-by-40 feet container and sited on a concrete pad with a slightly larger footprint. The purpose of the batteries is to store power from the turbines for the CCET DOE research project and for optimum pricing on power sales to the grid.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.