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Pepco to Launch Community Microgrid

Jan. 29, 2020
Resiliency center includes a 70.2-kW rooftop solar array combined with a 46-kW/56-kWh battery system.

Pepco has partnered with SimpliPhi Power and New Partners Community Solar to launch one of the first resiliency centers in Washington, D.C., that is powered by solar and SimpliPhi Power's batteries, at a new justice housing development, The Maycroft.

The Maycroft's resiliency center includes a 70.2-kW rooftop solar array combined with a 46-kW/56-kWh battery system that seamlessly disconnects from the grid and provides power for up to three days during an unplanned power outage. The solar plus storage system uses SimpliPhi Power's high-performance batteries to support critical loads for the center such as refrigeration for food and medication, exhaust and floor fans, lighting, outlets for charging cell phones and medical devices, kitchen facilities, and televisions. During a power outage, the resiliency center safely islands from the grid and runs 100% off of the SimpliPhi batteries and solar photovoltaic (PV) system, becoming an independent and self-sustaining microgrid.

Pepco will manage the interface between the SimpliPhi batteries and the solar installation, allowing the company to learn more about using this technology in future applications. This is the first such resource in the district and one of the first examples nationwide of a new trend in community-based "solar+battery storage+resiliency" efforts.

As climate change intensifies with increased extreme weather events, studies have shown that underresourced, low-income communities will be among those most vulnerable to the impact. Resiliency centers are expected to become more commonplace as communities respond, prepare, and adapt to the new climate reality.

"The impacts of climate change have manifested in more frequent and severe weather events, resulting in power disruptions for millions and costing the economy tens of billions of dollars each year," said SimpliPhi CEO, Catherine Von Burg. "Customer-cited energy storage can provide instant access to reliable and affordable power when the grid goes down, and optimize energy usage when the grid is available, benefiting both utilities and energy consumers."

"We know that climate change is real, and as leaders in the energy industry, we want to help usher in the clean energy future while doing our part to combat climate change and prepare for a world with more extreme weather and less predictability," said Donna Cooper, Pepco region president. "Even as we modernize the local energy grid with devices that are helping to provide the most reliable service in the history of our company, the impact of climate change, natural disasters, and other emergencies that affect the energy grid are becoming more frequent. And these challenges fall most heavily on our low-income residents and neighbors. We are excited about this project and we think this pilot could be a roadmap for others to follow, both in the district and beyond."

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