Columbus, Ohio Gets its First Solar Powered Microgrid

Feb. 7, 2023
The City of Columbus has enhanced the reliability of its critical water infrastructure with a renewable energy microgrid.

To reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, Columbus, Ohio’s Climate Action Plan calls for five microgrid pilot projects to be implemented by 2030. The first, which will also improve the resilience of the city’s critical water infrastructure, is now live.

Commissioned last November, the Tussing Water Booster Station is home to the city’s first renewable energy microgrid. The installation has 100 kW of onsite solar generation and 440 kWh of battery energy storage.

Power management company Eaton announced today that it will supply the system’s intelligent microgrid controller.

“This microgrid project is an important precedent that demonstrates how climate-friendly technologies can be applied to modernize critical infrastructure while improving people’s lives, the environment and the bottom line,” said Igor Stamenkovic, vice president and general manager for Eaton’s Electrical Engineering Services & Systems division.

It’s expected that the microgrid will be energized sometime in the next two months.

Combating climate change

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said that the city has an obligation to strengthen the resiliency of its critical infrastructure to meet the challenges presented by climate change.

"Climate change is already impacting quality of life in central Ohio, and the challenges stemming from its very existence will only continue to grow more frequent and more common in the years ahead,” Ginther said.

A perfect example is the severe thunderstorm that swept through central Ohio last summer, leaving hundreds of thousands of Columbus residents without power for nearly a week. 

According to Ginther, the Tussing microgrid is a key step in developing the necessary resiliency.

In the event of an outage, the microgrid controller will automatically disconnect the system from the grid and enter what’s called island mode. When islanded, the on-site solar panels and batteries are used to power the water station. This ensures the safe and reliable delivery of clean drinking water to residents during extended power outages, like the one experienced last summer.

Once power is restored, the controller automatically reconnects to the grid.

Reducing the city’s energy costs and supporting the grid

In addition to ensuring residents have safe drinking water, Eaton’s intelligent microgrid controller will also help the city to reduce its energy costs.

Want to learn more? Check out Microgrid Knowledge’s educational series on Microgrids for Water and Wastewater Facilities.

The controller will also help AEP Ohio, the dominant electric utility in the city, balance the grid through intelligent voltage regulation and allow the water boosting station to participate in sustainable demand response.

“I am proud of the ways in which the City of Columbus is leading by example and embracing innovative solutions to ensure an equitable and prosperous future for every resident,” Ginther said. 

Microgrid developed in partnership with utility

The Tussing Water Booster Station microgrid was partially funded by AEP Ohio’s Smart City program. The utility’s Smart City program is designed to show how microgrids can provide affordable, sustainable and resilient energy for critical infrastructure.

“We’re proud to help AEP Ohio and the City of Columbus reach a major milestone in their journey to build a more equitable, resilient and sustainable future,” Eaton’s Stamenkovic said.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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