With Storage, Schools Put Money Back Into the Classroom

Posted March 31, 2016 by Zoe Fishman

Green Charge Network's storage system at Oak Park HS in Ventura, CA

According to the U.S. DOE Global Energy Storage Database, 22 school districts across the U.S. have already announced or installed storage systems. There is a good reason for this growing trend -- with loads that spike during the grid’s busiest times, schools are often hit with high demand charges that can account for over 50% of each bill. One San Diego school, for example, reported that brief spikes in usage throughout the month made up more than $38,000 of one $70,000 electric bill in 2015.

Schools can use storage to avoid these spikes in energy use and save hundreds of thousands per year. Many storage providers couple battery systems with intelligent software that learns a school’s usage patterns, and charges and discharges the system at the optimal time. Storage can also fulfill goals like supporting electric vehicles on campus and achieving sustainability goals. As EVs become increasingly popular, campuses need to figure out how to provide charging for vehicles that doesn’t result in a huge price tag for the school in the form of demand charges. Storage can fulfill dual goals of encouraging the use of EVs while mitigating the spikes that would otherwise increase demand charges.
Schools up and down California have signed agreements to install storage, in many cases paired with solar energy systems. To name a few:
  • In the Mountain View and Los Altos districts in Silicon Valley, Green Charge Networks installed 1080 kWh capacity systems across two high schools. The systems were financed by the company, meaning the school districts put no money down upfront and began saving on monthly bills immediately.
  • SolarCity installed a 260 kWh system paired with 6 megawatts of solar across 19 schools in Temecula, California. The systems are expected to save the district more than $520,000 within the first year of operation alone, and a whopping $35 million over 25 years.
  • Tesla will also build battery storage systems for three San Diego area high schools, which are estimated to cut the schools’ utility costs by as much as $300,000 per year. 
Sky high electric bills don’t affect schools alone. Many commercial and industrial facilities with high energy bills can benefit from energy storage. At Energy Storage North America, we’ll have a program track dedicated to the applications, case studies and best practices for storage for C&I customers -- we hope you can join us!