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STERLING – The Sterling Municipal Light Department is marking a major milestone related to the department’s two energy storage systems.

In March, SMLD celebrated over $1 million in avoided costs to the light department, thanks to the two systems.

SMLD’s first energy storage system, a 2-megawatt, 3.9-megawatt-hour utility scale battery from NEC Energy Solutions, was the first of its kind in Massachusetts when it went online in December 2016. The project was designed to provide Sterling with up to 12 days of emergency backup power to critical public facilities during severe weather events, as well as lower utility costs by dispatching the battery during peak load periods.

The system prompted the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company (MMWEC), Sterling’s joint action agency, to enhance its own peak load forecasting capabilities and develop a remote dispatch system. After successfully calling several monthly peak loads for Sterling, MMWEC began remotely dispatching the battery from its offices in Ludlow beginning in October 2017.

In early 2018, SMLD teamed up with Origis Energy to develop the first community solar-plus-storage project in the state. The project paired a 1-megawatt, 2-megawatt-hour energy storage system with a 1-megawatt community solar project. The battery is energized exclusively by the solar system.

By the time MMWEC began remotely dispatching SMLD’s second energy storage system in June 2018, the utility had already avoided more than $500,000 in costs by strategically dispatching its first battery during peak usage periods. MMWEC has been successful in calling the peak with 100 percent accuracy. Today, both systems cumulatively have saved the light department over $1 million.