City hoping to buy a Tesla battery the size of two 18-wheeler containers
You've heard of Tesla cars and you may have heard about the Tesla "Powerwall," a battery that can charge your home.
Austin Energy is hoping to soon put in an order for a Tesla battery the size of two 18-wheeler containers.
"The battery is going to be a 1.5 megawatt battery, it's going to have 2 hours of storage so it will be able to support full output of the battery for 2 hours," said Kurt Stogdill with Austin Energy.
Stogdill says the lithium-ion battery will be a part of a new community solar project. He says renewable energy doesn't mean lower bills for consumers just yet but that's expected to change in the future. This battery is a learning experience.
"It's kind of a centerpiece for a trial or a test phase to really be able to understand how well this storage system is going to interact with the distribution system, how it will interact with the solar array as well," Stogdill said.
Earlier this year, wind energy in West Texas hit a new record. Wind producers sold the energy at below what it costs to make it. And many of those producers still made money at negative costs because of a Federal tax credit -- $23 per megawatt hour.
But according to the Wind Coalition, that credit only lasts for 10 years and the program recently expired.
Dave Tuttle, a Research Fellow with the Energy Institute at UT says that plan was meant to nurture the industry until producers could compete on their own.
"The PTC and the subsidies will go away and we won't see really "negative." But when we get wind power and it has zero fuel costs and it lowers the cost of the energy, there are times when there's an excess produced. And it's a great opportunity to be able to take that excess, save it, store it, and then use it again when you really need it...when you don't have an excess or when say the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining," Tuttle said.
Battery storage is still in its infancy when it comes to helping the consumer. But in the future, it may be a game changer.
"The trend is that energy storage -- battery energy storage used to be $1000 per kilowatt hour 4 or 5 years ago. Now it's down to $300 and it's improving 5 to 10% per year," Tuttle said.
Speaking of the Tesla Powerwall -- Austin's own "green" home-improvement store Treehouse is still awaiting their shipment of the batteries. They have the exclusive retail rights and the list of interested people is about 1,000 strong.
"This type of technology is going to change the way that utilities like Austin Energy plan for energy use and population growth. And it also helps customers and homeowners, again, just take control of their own electricity which is...really exciting," said Michael Kaiser with Treehouse.
Assuming the city council approves the battery and Tesla delivers it on time, Austin Energy is hoping to have it up and running by early 2017.
They are hoping it will give customers better service and more distributed solar power -- which they say customers have been asking for.