Initial Phase of Powerstream’s Microgrid Now Operational

PowerStream recently unveiled a microgrid demonstration project at the utility’s head office. PowerStream is a community-owned energy company that provides power and related services to approximately 360,000 customers residing or owning a business in communities located immediately north of Toronto and in Central Ontario. It is jointly owned by the Cities of Barrie, Markham and Vaughan.

As one of the first utilities of its size in North America to initiate a proof-of-concept trial involving this technology, PowerStream is using its demonstration project to evaluate a microgrid’s performance while it is connected to, and also disconnected from, the provincial grid. The demonstration project marks the next phase in the company’s efforts to support smart grid development at the provincial level and leverage innovative ‘smart’ technologies in Ontario’s electricity sector.

The company believes that microgrids will be an integral part of Ontario’s energy future, not only changing the way electricity is distributed but also in providing an innovative solution to the challenge of asset renewal in large-scale electricity delivery systems and demonstrating how renewable energy can effectively help to address the growing demand for electricity.

“We believe that Micro Grid technology will help provide our customers with additional safe, sustainable and reliable choices for meeting their energy needs in the future.” said Frank Scarpitti, PowerStream Board Chair and Mayor of the City of Markham. “This is why PowerStream is on the forefront of testing the use of this technology.”

The utility is implementing its microgrid in two phases. In phase one, which is currently in place, the company is drawing electricity from several sources — a solar array, a wind turbine, a natural-gas generator, a solar-assisted carport charging station, as well as lead acid, Lithium Ion and Sodium Nickel Chloride batteries — in order to provide electricity for loads at its head office building such as lighting, air conditioning and refrigeration. The system is also designed to provide charging for a fleet of electric vehicles.

Other corporate partners involved in the microgrid demonstration project include Enbridge, Enviro-Energy Technologies, General Electric, Navigant, Rosewater Energy, renewz sustainable solutions and SMA.

“Microgrid technology is an innovative way to offer Ontario consumers choices about how they generate and consume energy,” said Tom Chapman, Director, Transmission and Distribution Policy for the Ministry of Energy. “Together with smart grid technology, microgrid development can help keep Ontario’s energy flowing, bringing it to the businesses and consumers who need it, while providing new jobs and opportunities to create a sustainable future for energy in Ontario.” 

Source: Powerstream