- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

GLACIER, Wash. (AP) - Puget Sound Energy plans to install four shipping containers housing lithium iron phosphate batteries to keep the power on when lines go down in the Cascade mountains, the utility said.

Glacier would be among the first communities in the state to test large-scale battery storage, The Bellingham Herald reported Wednesday (https://bit.ly/ZDKy0o ).

Crews could install the battery system next summer at a substation. It would put out a maximum of about 2 megawatts - enough to power about 150 average homes for one day, said Patrick Leslie, emerging technologies program manager for PSE.

The project is funded in part by a $3.8 million Smart Grid Grant from the state Department of Commerce. PSE plans to put in about $5.8 million of its own money to bring the system online next fall.

Glacier was selected for the test partly because there is no good alternative to increase the reliability of power to the area, Leslie said.

“The standard solution might be to do extensive tree trimming, but it’s a scenic highway, and it’s also very expensive to do that,” Leslie said.

PSE has about 1,000 customers in the Glacier area - 200 to 300 full-time residents plus vacation homes that fill up during the winter sport season at the nearby Mt. Baker Ski Area.

“A lot of residents are generally prepared for outages, but a lot who visit the area aren’t,” Leslie said. “If we can at least provide power to the downtown area, the grocery store, we can give people a place to go in case of an extended outage.”

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, https://www.bellinghamherald.com

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