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A new renewable-energy project comes online in Cicero that matches solar power with batteries to lower costs and help during peak demand

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Convergent Energy + Power
Power storage units are able to store power generated by solar panels for release when the electricity is needed most. Convergent Energy + Power collaborated on the project with National Grid

A new solar power project in Central New York could provide solutions to some of the concerns about renewable energy and the electric grid. WAER’s Chris Bolt reports on a new collaboration between National Grid and a green energy company.

One concern about solar power is that it works best only when the sun is shining. A new project by Convergent Energy and Power and National Grid couples solar-generated electricity with batteries that can allow people to use the power later. Convergent Chief Operating Officer Frank Genova also points out the utility has the electricity when needed most.

“Picture late July, 4:00 p.m. when everyone’s thermostats are ramping up and HVAC units are ramping up.  So that’s really the peak time where National Grid is probably going to use this resource.” 

At off-peak times? The generation and storage can keep costs low for ratepayers. The Cicero project includes 15 megawatts of solar power with 10 Megawatts of battery capacity. Genova hopes this leads to more, similar projects to help reach goals of reducing greenhouse emissions.

“New York State is one of the most ambitious states on climate, c omitting to 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.  None of these lofty goals will be possible without batteries and battery-coupled renewables.  The ability to hold and store those electrons becomes critical.”  

Genova further suggests widespread use of this technology can make the entire grid more reliable – an essential goal if fossil fuel generated power is increasingly scaled back to address the climate crisis.

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Convergent Energy + Power
The solar installation in Cicero provides 15 MW of power coupled with 10 MW of storage, controlled by National Grid for local users.

The solar-plus-storage project got financing through NY’s Green Bank and incentives through NYSERDA.

“IN New York, Public-Private partnerships are a centerpiece of the state’s efforts to accelerate the development of these critical distributed resources to bring the benefits of clean energy into more homes and businesses while providing grid benefits utility-wide.” said NYSERDA Vice President of Distributed Energy David Sandbank in a release. 

This project is part of portfolio of 8 solar+storage systems in Central and Upstate New York by Convergent.

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.