City of Columbus Launches First Solar-Powered Microgrid
Augmented microgrid at Tussing Water Booster Station advances Columbus Climate Action Plan, community resiliency
The Department of Public Utilities has put into operation its first-ever solar-powered microgrid at the Tussing Water Booster Station.
The purpose of the microgrid is to serve as a backup power source to the main power grid. In the event that grid power is lost or disrupted, the microgrid will enter “Island Mode” and utilize the onsite solar and battery-energy storage system to operate one of the three booster pumps at the station, ensuring residents continue to receive safe and clean drinking water.
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,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “We have an obligation to strengthen the resiliency of our infrastructure and to meet these challenges head on. 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.”
With Columbus facing increasing heat and more frequent, stronger storms due to climate change, the Columbus Climate Action Plan commits the city to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and acts as a roadmap to help stave off climate change impacts. Action 6.3 of the plan aims to evaluate microgrids and storage projects, with targets to complete a prioritization study by 2025 and implement five microgrid pilot projects by 2030.
IMPACT celebrates the City of Columbus as they take this vital step toward resiliency,” said Ja’net Graham, senior-manager of energy advocacy with IMPACT Community Action. “We are happy to be working to achieve environmental equity, focusing on those who have historically been disenfranchised and underrepresented. Marginalized groups often are most impacted by climate change, and we are happy that the City of Columbus is working toward combatting those effects.”
The microgrid consists of two main components, which are the 100 kW solar panel system and the battery energy storage system. Sun provides energy to the panels, which can be stored in the batteries or converted for use in Island Mode to power the pump station. The water towers can supply drinking water for 1-2 days without electricity, but the microgrid is designed to extend its ability to supply water during an outage for a minimum of six hours with the potential to extend it for many days using energy supplied by the solar panels.
The Department of Public Utilities is proud to put this project into operation, supporting our Columbus Climate Action Plan goals and Mayor Ginther’s vision for a more equitable, climate resilient community,” said Kristen Atha, director of the Department of Public Utilities. “This microgrid will support residents continuing to receive safe, clean drinking water during times of climate crisis and emergency situations.”
The project has been in development since 2019, and was supported through a funding initiative and partnership with AEP Ohio. The cost of the Division of Water improvement project cost around $1 million, including design and construction.
“AEP Ohio is investing in infrastructure and implementing new technologies to strengthen the energy grid and deliver the reliable service our communities expect,” said Marc Reitter, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. “This is the third microgrid project we’ve supported in our service territory, and we continue to deploy smart solutions and programs to create an energy system that’s responsive to the needs of our customers. We appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with the city and enhance the resiliency of a critical public service.”
Video can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=do2WAWolCgc. For more information on Sustainable Columbus, visit www.columbus.gov/sustainable and for the Department of Public Utilities, visit www.columbus.gov/utilities.