Liberty Utilities Proposes Microgrid with Tesla Batteries at California Ski Resort

Feb. 6, 2018
Liberty Utilities has begun exploring a utility microgrid in the North Tahoe region of California that would use up to 8 MW of Tesla batteries to prepare the grid for more renewable energy and reduce power supply costs.

Liberty Utilities has begun exploring a utility microgrid in the North Tahoe region of California that would use up to 8 MW of Tesla batteries to prepare the grid for more renewable energy and reduce power supply costs.

The Olympic Valley Microgrid Project would be owned, operated and maintained by the utility at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, a ski resort community.

Described as an upgrade to utility infrastructure, the project requires approval by the California Public Utilities Commission and Placer County.

The batteries would be charged with surplus grid energy when demand for power is low, and then discharged when it is high. As a result, the utility would avoid buying power, reducing costs. The charging would take place via existing utility power lines.

The utility microgrid also will make it easier to integrate more renewables onto the grid. Microgrids and batteries offer a quick way to inject energy onto the grid when renewables suddenly stop producing power because clouds cover the sun or the wind stops blowing.

Liberty Utilities hopes to exceed a California state mandate of 50 percent renewable energy supply by 2030. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has even more aggressive clean energy goals. The ski resort wants to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy sources as early as 2018.

“Battery energy storage can facilitate use of renewable energy sources,” said Greg Sorensen, president of Liberty Utilities’ West Region. “Battery storage can also improve service reliability and help offset purchases from fossil fuel sources during times of high electricity demand, saving money for our customers. The Olympic Valley Microgrid project proposal is just one piece in a larger mosaic of renewable energy and battery energy storage projects that Liberty Utilities is exploring throughout our service territory.”

Liberty Utilities owns and operates several small regulated water, wastewater, natural gas and electric transmission and distribution utilities that serve i 750,000 customers in 12 states.

Learn about the latest utility microgrid projects at Microgrid 2018, May 7-9 in Chicago.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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