Constellation deploys 8.75 MW of batteries around Pennsylvania transit system

A battery storage network, which captures and reuses the energy created by braking subway cars, will help the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to reduce operating costs, ensure energy resiliency, and support the stability of the electrical grid.

Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp. (NYSE: EXC), will fund, own, and operate the 8.75-MW battery storage network, deployed at seven SEPTA substations. The network is designed to use stored energy to power trains as they accelerate from stations and can provide emergency generation for trains in the event of a power outage. An expansion of SEPTA’s 1.8-MW battery storage pilot program completed in 2014, this new network brings the agency’s total battery storage capacity to more than 10 MW.

“SEPTA’s Sustainability Program is all about finding and deploying cutting-edge innovations to reduce costs in addition to improving environmental performance. This project is right in that sustainability sweet spot, and we are pleased to partner with Constellation and Viridity in bringing it to market right here in the Philadelphia region, an emerging hub for innovative energy projects,” said SEPTA General Manager Jeffrey D. Knueppel.

The project, which is among the first commercially deployed battery storage systems in a transit operation, requires no upfront capital investment from SEPTA and will be financed through a 20-year battery services agreement with Constellation.

“As a competitive energy supplier, we aim to provide our customers with the best long-term economic and business solutions for how their energy is produced and supplied,” said Gary Fromer, senior vice president of distributed energy at Constellation. “This battery storage network, along with $26 million in guaranteed savings from efficiency improvements Constellation is implementing for SEPTA, will help SEPTA deliver on its budget and energy resiliency goals.”

The stored energy will help to balance electric load within the PJM Interconnection region. Viridity Energy will provide energy market services for the project, bidding the batteries into the PJM market as frequency regulation resources to help match generation with demand and maintain the desired electrical frequency on the grid.

“Our ground-breaking regenerative braking pilot at SEPTA proved that energy storage can be used by transit systems to create substantial cost savings, generate revenue, and contribute to sustainability goals,” said Viridity Energy CEO Mack Treece. “By expanding the pilot to a full deployment, SEPTA will demonstrate to rail transit systems throughout the world that energy storage can be a core part of their overall energy and sustainability strategy when paired with the right technologies and market expertise.”

ABB will provide engineering, procurement, construction and operations services to Constellation for the project. Saft will provide the lithium ion battery technology. Construction activities are scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2016 with estimated commercial operation in late 2016.

Constellation is a leading competitive retail supplier of power, natural gas and energy products and services for homes and businesses across the continental United States.

SEPTA is the nation’s sixth largest public transportation system with a vast network of fixed routes including bus, subway, elevated trains, trolley, trackless trolley, high speed, and Regional Rail commuter trains serving a 2,202 square mile transit region.

Viridity Energy’s enabling software and services turn customer energy profiles into financial returns. Its mission is to transform how energy customers interact proactively and productively with the electric 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.