Colorado Regulators Give Xcel Okay on Panasonic Demonstration Microgrid

March 9, 2016
Colorado regulators yesterday approved plans by Xcel Energy and Panasonic to install a $10.3 million demonstration microgrid at the Denver International Airport.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission yesterday approved plans by Xcel Energy and Panasonic to install a $10.3 million demonstration microgrid at the Denver International Airport.

Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel subsidiary, applied for approval of the solar microgrid in October (Proceeding No. 15A-0847E ).

The demonstration microgrid will be installed at an airport parking garage near a new commuter rail and across the street from the new Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company headquarters.

The state regulatory agency also approved an investment by Xcel into a dozen batteries for both solar customers and energy management on the grid, in what is known as the Stapleton project.

In all, the utility will invest $9.1 million for the two projects.  For the microgrid, the utility plans to contribute $6.7 million, with an additional $3.6 million funded by Panasonic and the airport. Xcel will invest $4 million in the Stapleton battery project.

The PUC approval came after Xcel signed a settlement that guaranteed the utility make project data public, vet costs in future rate proceedings and file milestone reports. The settlement was reached by the utility, PUC Staff, the Office of Consumer Counsel, the Colorado Energy Office, Western Resource Advocates, Sunrun and the Energy Freedom Coalition of America.

The Panasonic microgrid will include 1.3 MW AC canopy solar installation and a 1 MW — 2 MWh lithium battery storage system. The batteries will serve the grid and provide back-up power for the building. Xcel will own the installation, and Panasonic will service it. It will be able to operate in both a grid-connected and island mode.

For the Stapleton project, Xcel will install six batteries on the customer side of the meter at residences that already have rooftop solar. Another six batteries will be installed on an Xcel’s feeder line for peak load management.

The utility plans to issue a request for proposals for the batteries.

Xcel hopes to learn more about how it can use storage to manage high penetrations of solar on its distribution system feeder, as well as regulate voltage and reduce peak demand.

The two projects are part of Xcel’s Innovative Clean Technology or ICT program. The utility has built two other projects through the program: a concentrating solar facility and community energy storage.

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Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

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