Remote Microgrid Built by Alliant Energy Cuts Utility Costs by Half

April 30, 2020
Alliant Energy has built a remote microgrid to power a Wisconsin state park as a less expensive alternative to replacing an overhead power line.

Alliant Energy has built a remote microgrid to power a Wisconsin state park as a less expensive alternative to replacing an overhead power line.

The microgrid at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) site could become a model for other Alliant microgrids, according to Michael Graves, Alliant senior engineer.

“We’ll monitor how it performs and see if it can be used as a model for other parts of our service area,” Graves said.

The $200,000 microgrid, energized earlier this year, includes a 6-kW photovoltaic system, a 42-kWh lithium ferro phosphate batteries, a charge controller, inverter and cellular communications. It would have cost $400,000 to replace an aging power line that ran to the site.

The microgrid will provide power for lighting and a water pump at the DNR building and cabin inthe 800-acre Black Hawk recreational area in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway near Sauk City,Wisconsin.

“Not only does this project further our organizational effort to transition to green energy, but it also improves the natural beauty of the area by removing the visible power lines,” said DNR Secretary’s Director Mark Aquino.

Wisconsin has a goal of getting all its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050 and to make its state facilities more sustainable.

The microgrid will typically be used from May through October, according to Alliant.

Project vendors included Northwind Solar, SimpliPhi Power (batteries), and Outback Power (charge controller, inverter and other system components).

Other utilities also have been building remote microgrids instead of more conventional approaches. Southern California Edison, for example built a solar-based microgrid in December to avert wildfires near a remote dam in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The microgrid allowed the utility to de-energize a line that provided power to the site of the Gem Dam, part of the Rush Creek Hydroelectric Facility near Yosemite National Park. Duke Energy has built a microgrid to serve Hot Springs, North Carolina, a remote town that had frequent extended power outages. The microgrid includes a 2-MW solar array and a 4-MW battery storage system.

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About the Author

Ethan Howland

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