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UMass gets battery grant in Tesla partnership

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s central heating plant, which supplies 70 percent of campus electricity needs. SUBMITTED PHOTO



@dustyc123
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

AMHERST — The state has awarded the University of Massachusetts Amherst a $1.14 million grant to build a large battery together with the company Tesla Energy.

The funding is part of $20 million in state grants awarded last week to 25 communities. The grants are part of a state initiative meant to improve the energy storage market in Massachusetts.

“The development and deployment of energy storage projects will be vital to the Commonwealth’s ability to continue leading the nation in energy efficiency,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “Funding these storage projects is an investment in our energy portfolio that will reduce costs for ratepayers and help create a clean and resilient energy future.”

Tesla will design and construct the one megawatt/four-megawatt-hour lithium ion battery storage system at UMass as part of the 15-year project. The company will also provide $80,000 of educational opportunities for UMass students such as paid internships, career mentorship and curriculum development around the issues of solar and energy storage. 

The battery will be located next to the campus power plant, and is meant to lower peak energy demand on campus, thus reducing the university’s reliance on the outside power grid. 

“We’re very excited to be able to integrate a 1 MW lithium ion battery into our utility infrastructure on campus,” Raymond Jackson, the university’s physical plant director, said in a statement. “This project will help us optimize our on-campus renewable energy generation, increase resiliency and further diversity our utility portfolio.”

Currently, the campus receives 15 megawatts of power from the university's central heating plant, which has a 10-megawatt solar combustion turbine, a 4-megawatt steam turbine, three natural gas boilers and a heat recovery steam generator. The campus also gets around 5 megawatts from solar panels around campus.

This is not the first time that Tesla has won contracts for similar projects at universities. The company is currently working on battery projects at Cal State University and College of Marin.

As part of the state's $20 million in grants, Tesla also won a $1.07 million for a battery project at Wynn Boston Harbor casino in Everett, and a $1.25 million for a residential battery project in Nantucket. Other companies to receive money under the initiative include General Electric and National Grid.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.