FirstLight Plans 17 MW BESS With Hydropower Coupling

October 27, 2022 by Stephanie Leonida

Could this be a winning combination for clean energy provision? FirstLight Power plans to build a 17 megawatt battery energy storage system that could be coupled with hydropower.

FirstLight Power has announced plansto close its fossil fuel power generation facility, the last of its fleet that has a kerosene-fired turbine more than 50 years old. The yet-to-be-retired 17 megawatt facility will be replaced with a battery energy storage system (BESS) of the same capacity. The BESS will be located near FirstLight’s Tunnel Hydro facility. Hydropower could be combined with the BESS system to enhance capacity and deliver clean energy to Connecticut consumers.


Image used courtesy of IEA Hydropower


Combining Battery Storage With Hydropower

FirstLight’s Tunnel Hydro facility, a hydroelectric station with two generating units, is located on Preston’s Quinebaug River. The nearness of BESS to the hydro station provides FirstLight with the opportunity to combine the facilities and distribute renewable power to Connecticut consumers when needed. Although FirstLight does not mention any details of this potential merger in power storage and generation systems, we can glean the impact of such a concept by looking at an example.

Germany-based multinational energy company RWE AG generates and trades electricity and gas globally. The company should be completing its Megabattery117plus project—a 11 -MW capacity battery storage system that will be virtually coupled to RWE’s hydropower stations on the Mosel River. Total capacity of the system will be split between RWE’s Werne (North Rhine-Westphalia) and Lingen power plants (with 72 and 45 MW, respectively).

The hydropower stations will add to the battery system’s existing capacity by as much as 15 percent through the coupling process. Raising or lowering flow-through at the hydro sites makes this possible. This added capacity can also provide balancing energy, working alongside the battery system to stabilize the power grid. The project is expected to go ahead with operations at the end of 2022.

FirstLight plans to retire and decommission the Tunnel Jet peaking facility in 2023. Besides procuring the 17-MW BESS, First Light will work alongside its partner, the Texas-based electricity company New Leaf Energy, throughout the design stage and share management responsibilities. Upon procurement of the BESS, and once FirstLight has secured the interconnection and permits, construction is expected to commence toward the end of 2024 or in early 2025.


Creating a Clean Energy Workforce

Besides the BESS project, FirstLight will be working with New Leaf to achieve another clean energy-focused initiative. Both FirstLight and New Leaf will be donating $60,000 in seed funding to a private, not-for-profit energy support program, Operation Fuel. The funds will go toward Operational Fuel’s work on creating a workforce training program for Connecticut consumers so they can gain access to green jobs and potentially contribute to a new carbon-free society.

Operation Fuel has a network of 58 partner organizations across Connecticut. This includes almost all of the Community Action Agencies that run the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The LIHEAP helps eligible low-income families cover energy costs for heating and cooling.

Funding from New Leaf and FirstLight will also go toward training Operation Fuel’s staff on energy efficiency and supporting an emergency energy assistance worker at the Thames Valley Council for Community Action.