Consumers Energy recently opened a new battery facility on Western Michigan University’s Parkview campus which will aid in the company’s clean energy plan and follow WMU’s promise to work toward sustainability by housing enough energy to power 1,000 homes at any time.
The facility, which opened on Sept. 17 on the corner of South Drake Road and Parkview Avenue, is the first of its kind in Michigan. Consumers Energy chose the Parkview campus location because of its proximity to the company’s solar garden, which opened last year, with the partnership of WMU, as well as the University’s 40-foot wind turbine.
The 1-megawatt-hour battery will act as a backup for the solar garden and wind turbine by storing their energy to be used when the sun and wind aren’t present to generate energy.
“Our Clean Energy Plan calls for more solar and wind electric generation facilities that will depend on battery storage to be dependable sources of energy for our customers for when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining,” Tim Sparks, Consumers Energy’s vice president of electric grid integration at the facility’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, said. “The Parkview Battery Project begins the next groundbreaking chapter in the story about how clean and reliable energy reaches Consumers Energy customers.”
Along with when the weather is poor, Consumers Energy will also use the stored energy when there is a high demand from customers or even in the evening when the company may not be using power from the solar garden or wind farm.
“It’s a way of making our solar and wind power much more reliable and efficient,” Roger Morgenstern, Consumers Energy’s senior public information director, said.
This project partnership between WMU and Consumers Energy will benefit WMU students. Consumers Energy has contributed funds in order for WMU to build a two-unit solar garden for faculty and students to use for research. Students will also have the opportunity to purchase Solar Learning Modules.
“The modules allow WMU to use the solar facility to educate WMU students, expose area K-12 students to solar energy, and train emergency first responders and other government and community groups in solar arrays and related energy systems,” according to a WMU press release.
WMU engineering students will also have the opportunity to participate in partnerships with Consumers Energy on electric battery research.