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Viva Volta! How the humble battery is helping shape New York’s clean energy future

We all owe a great debt to Alessandro Volta, the Italian scientist whose discoveries in the late 18th century culminated in the “electric pile,” the precursor to the batteries we use today. Batteries power countless aspects of our everyday lives, from powering your TV remote and your smartphone to starting your car. If you drive an electric car, they even take the place of a gas tank.

We all know the small jobs they do, like powering your TV remote and your smartphone and starting your car. If you drive an electric car, they even take the place of a gas tank.

The Future of Clean Energy on Long Island
Did you know that batteries also play a key role in the clean energy future PSEG Long Island is helping create for its customers? Bulk energy storage units on the East End and the batteries that can be installed to compliment home solar panels are both helping all of us stay cool in the summer without having to purchase more generation capacity from fossil fuel-burning power plants.

Bulk Energy Storage
First, I want to discuss bulk energy storage. PSEG Long Island has been adding bulk energy storage — giant, house-sized batteries — to its portfolio of energy resources in order to help meet New York State’s ambitious emissions reduction targets.

At PSEG Long Island’s recommendation, LIPA awarded two contracts in 2016 to companies that built these bulk storage units in East Hampton and Montauk, to accommodate the growing electric demand on the East End. Each of these units can feed a maximum 5 MW of electricity into the grid for eight consecutive hours before recharging. Together, that’s the equivalent of powering 8,000 homes for eight hours. The units replaced multiple portable, compressed natural gas-burning generators that previously were needed to support peak demand on the East End in the summer months.

These two units are just the beginning of the role batteries will play in the green energy future of Long Island and the Rockaways. We have already put out to bid a request for up to 175 MW more bulk battery storage to come online by the end of 2025, and we plan to issue a request for at least another 175 MW to come into service before 2030.

The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act calls for 6,000 MW of battery storage to be online, statewide, by 2030.

Then there are the batteries that store energy captured by residential rooftop solar panels. PSEG Long Island residential customers who have rooftop solar and battery storage can get paid for allowing their batteries to feed the grid during times of peak demand — a few times during the summer each year. This additional capacity allows PSEG Long Island to purchase less power from fossil fuel-burning power plants.

With at least 850 solar and battery storage systems installed in the service area, we encourage customers to sign up for this program. Learn more about PSEG Long Island’s energy storage rewards

So if you have a moment today, think about the ways that our modern lives are possible thanks to Volta’s “electric pile” from two centuries ago. And, like me, I hope you will also look forward to the clean energy possibilities they offer as New York State transitions away from dependence on fossil fuels.

Paul D. Napoli - Vice President of Power Markets, PSEG Long Island

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