Stem Inc., a California provider of energy-storage systems, agreed to provide Austin Energy with software and batteries to help the Texas utility integrate more solar systems into its grid.
Stem will deploy as much as 1 megawatt-hour of battery capacity at commercial locations throughout Austin Energy’s service territory, the storage company’s Chief Executive Officer John Carrington said in an interview. It’s Stem’s first move into Texas after installing systems in California and Hawaii.
The agreement shows the growing demand for storage, which makes it easier for utilities to manage the intermittent power from wind and solar plants. Worldwide, more than 500 megawatts of utility-scale storage was commissioned last year, the most ever, according to a December report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
“This proves out that storage is viable in more states,” Carrington said.
The project is funded in part through a $4.3 million U.S. Energy Department grant aimed at reducing the cost of electricity from systems that combine solar and storage to less than 14 cents a kilowatt-hour. The state of Texas and city of Austin are also helping finance the Stem deployment, said Karl Popham, manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies at Austin Energy.
Austin Energy will use Stem’s systems to help integrate solar energy on its grid, Popham said. The batteries will also help customers avoid charges for energy use when demand spikes. The municipal-owned utility has set a goal of getting 55 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.