AEP Ohio builds solar + battery powered microgrid for outage management at water treatment plant

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AEP Ohio's Solar + Battery Microgrid. Credit: AEP Ohio

AEP Ohio, an American Electric Power company, said this week that it has completed construction of a solar-powered backup microgrid, in an effort to provide more resilient electric service at the Athens Water Treatment Plant. The project is part of AEP Ohio’s effort to demonstrate that microgrids can keep the power flowing in the event of an extended outage.  

 The microgrid includes an existing 658-panel solar array on site that powers a new 250 kilowatt/ 1,140 kilowatt-hour battery energy system. It is expected that this system would be able to maintain power to the plant for up to five days in the event of an outage. When an outage occurs, the microgrid will take over delivering power to the plant within minutes. 

As part of the demonstration project, AEP Ohio, in partnership with the city of Athens, will perform a series of planned outages over the next 11 months to test the microgrid’s effectiveness in various situations. 

This microgrid is one of three for AEP Ohio. In 2020, a microgrid was installed at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium to help power the water filtration system at the Polar Frontier exhibit, while a third microgrid is scheduled for construction at a Columbus Public Water facility. In partnership with the host sites and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, simulated outage data will be analyzed as AEP Ohio looks for new ways to adapt in an evolving utility industry.  

“AEP Ohio is always looking for new solutions for the future of electrical service,” said AEP Ohio’s Anthony DeBord, Customer and External Affairs Manager. “This microgrid project was a great opportunity for AEP Ohio to partner with the city of Athens and gain experience that could one day benefit all of our customers.” 

“This new solar-powered backup system will truly enhance the resilience of one of our most vital assets, the Athens Water Treatment Plant,” said Athens Mayor Steve Patterson. “I really appreciate AEP Ohio engaging with Athens on this demonstration project and for bringing it across the finish line.” 

The project is part of the Smart City program and is an important piece of AEP Ohio’s commitment to build a smarter, more resilient energy grid. 

The microgrid is owned by the city of Athens and operated by AEP Ohio.

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