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Clarkson to study electric use in Tupper Lake, Lake Placid

May 3, 2019
By AARON CERBONE - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

TUPPER LAKE - A study conducted by faculty at Clarkson University in Potsdam will determine if the villages of Tupper Lake and Lake Placid could use batteries to reduce electricity costs by staying within their municipal departments' state energy allotment through "peak shaving."

Thomas Ortmeyer, a Clarkson professor and lead researcher for the project, said the $75,000 study was made possible by the villages' rare municipal electric department contracts and increasing technology around lithium ion batteries.

Both municipalities own their electric departments, and New York State Power Authority gives them a fixed amount of hydropower, which when surpassed is purchased on the open market for substantially higher prices.

Ortmeyer said the batteries, if installed, would ideally reduce the number of instances where the villages exceed their hydropower allotment, thus saving customers money.

"This is one of the reasons this study is unique," said Adirondack North Country Association Energy Circuit Rider Nancy Bernstein, who will facilitate the study. "Often, communities with municipal electric utilities don't benefit from renewable technologies such as solar or wind because their electricity costs are already very low. But it's possible they may benefit from energy storage opportunities like this."

ANCA energy circuit riders serve as field agents for the grant-funded nonprofit group's Clean Energy Program. They help communities plan, finance and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. In this case they worked with Lake Placid and Tupper Lake municipal leaders to identify their initial interest in using batteries to peak shave.

Ortmeyer said the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will fund around 80% of the project, with Clarkson and the municipalities covering the 20% left. The college will pay for a larger portion of that 20% share.

Tupper Lake contract renewed

Last week, Tupper Lake municipal electric department Superintendent Mike Dominie told the village board that the Municipal Electric Utilities Association and NYPA had reached an agreement, extending the contract for the village's allotment of hydropower through 2040. It had been set to expire in 2025 The agreement extension impacts Lake Placid, too.

"Without threat of outside interest, both the MEUA and the New York Power Authority ... worked diligently throughout the contract process to ensure all key players had a fair and equitable agreement moving into the future for all of our municipal member systems," retired Tupper Lake municipal electric department Superintendent Marc Staves wrote in a message to the newspaper.



Ortmeyer said the batteries would store energy at night when the draw is low and put that energy to use during the day when draw is high, shifting the source of energy usage.

He said he and his research partner, professor Tuyen Vu, would primarily look at the average 15-minute demand data to determine when to store and use energy.

The batteries come in shipping containers, may be used to store between one and 10 megawatts per hour, and may cost $1 million or more. Ortmeyer said that due to demand from the automobile industry for electric cars, there have been "significant performance improvements" in lithium ion batteries over recent years, as they have become safer, cheaper and longer lasting.

Last December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for the deployment of 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030 to help New York meet his Green New Deal, a clean energy and jobs agenda with a goal of putting New York state on a path to a carbon-neutral economy.

NYSERDA announced last week that the state will invest in energy storage and that developers of large-scale projects can apply for a piece of the funds to reduce the cost of energy storage systems.



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