An illustration showing how the SWEPCO virtual power plant in Shreveport, Louisiana, works

SWEPCO Demonstrates Virtual Power Plant for Louisiana Customers

June 23, 2020
Solar power with energy storage project using SimpliPhi’s batteries and Heila Technologies’ control platform aims to improve grid reliability and security.

Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), an American Electric Power company, has undertaken a demonstration project that will serve as a virtual power plant in Shreveport, Louisiana. The virtual power plant can be managed in either grid-connected or off-grid mode with easy ways to switch between the two.

The project will aggregate distributed energy resources (DERs) and empower SWEPCO to manage these assets as an optimized fleet. Under a single platform, SWEPCO will be able to leverage the storage+solar systems to correct power factor, perform peak shaving and manage overall energy supply while improving customer resiliency. Building resiliency for utility customers using renewable power generation plus storage will be key as the Southeast United States continues to see an increase in extreme weather events because of the impacts of climate change. 

SimpliPhi Power, a US manufacturer of non-toxic, cobalt-free lithium ion energy storage systems, partnered with Heila Technologies to deploy intelligent energy storage+solar systems for the project. 

“Behind-the-meter energy storage is a cost-effective way to help utilities and customers alike manage their electricity usage with the security of knowing they have access to stored energy that can be seamlessly integrated into the grid or islanded during power outages,” said SimpliPhi Power’s CEO, Catherine Von Burg. 

Heila’s senior engineer and co-founder, Jorge Elizondo, said: “The Heila Platform is able to sense changes across all connected components and make the system holistically and automatically respond to the changing conditions of the electrical grid. With SimpliPhi, we have found a safe and high performing battery that is ready to be deployed at scale to make this vision a reality.”

SimpliPhi and Heila's solution consists of PHI 3.8-kWh batteries, inverter(s) and a Heila EDGE controller that acts as a battery management system (BMS) and an energy management system (EMS). Any and all DERs controlled by a Heila EDGE in a system are then aggregated and optimized to form a distributed intelligent network that can be used by any central controller, ADMS or SCADA to control the fleet as a single entity using common protocols.

The PHI batteries measure and report voltage, current and temperatures, and perform useful calculations to determine real-time battery state of charge (SoC), state of health (SoH) and fault detection. Heila is programmed to operate the PHI battery units in either grid-connected or off-grid mode, and manage transitions between modes, enabling full control of the flow of real and reactive power to and from the grid, load curtailment and more.

The utility or grid operator can set performance objectives at the aggregate level, rather than on a DER-by-DER basis and collect real-time and historical data from all systems to streamline grid operations. This project will serve as a model for other stakeholders who are interested in the benefits of decentralized energy generation and storage working as a virtual power plant. 

American Electric Power company is investing approximately US$25 billion over the next five years to improve grid efficiency and resiliency across its 260,000 miles of distribution and transmission networks. 

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of T&D World, create an account today!