524MWh BESS project proposed in Indiana MISO territory

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Developer Open Road Renewables has proposed a battery energy storage system (BESS) in Indiana, US, which will total 131MW/524MW of storage, the company’s President exclusively told Energy-storage.news.

The company has proposed the four-hour BESS project, called Monroe Power, to adjoin a substation near the small town of Walkerton in Indiana’s LaPorte County.

The local Board of Zoning and Appeals is assessing the proposal. It would serve Indiana’s electric grid in LaPorte County and surrounding areas, part of the grid operated by MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator).

In a statement provided to Energy-storage.news, President Cyrus Tashakkori said: “Monroe Power is planned as 131 MW/524 MWh using lithium-ion batteries. The facility will contribute to the stability and resiliency of the regional grid and will save ratepayers money as transmission and capacity costs continue to increase in Indiana. The facility can also reduce ratepayers’ peak power costs.” 

Monroe Power LLC is the project development entity set up by Open Road Renewables for development of the project. A detailed project description document says the site will take between nine and 18 months to build, with interconnection approval by MISO expected in Spring 2023.

The document says the project will involve over US$100 million of capital investment while a news report described it as a US$150 million project. The document adds that the project is expected to ultimately be owned and operated by, or otherwise contractually committed to, NIPSCO (Northern Indiana Public Service Company), one of the state’s main utilities.

The plan was initially formulated for a 71-acre site but that was amended to just 14 acres. It has reportedly received some local opposition and efforts have been made to landscape the site in order to reduce the visual impact (see picture above). You can read the whole project description here.

Regions within MISO’s responsibility, which covers much of the Midwest and some southern states, have typically relied on coal for power generation rather than natural gas as in nearby PJM. This has created opportunities for energy storage deployment as these coal facilities are rapidly being retired due to their very high carbon emissions.

An analyst at research firm IHS Markit recently told Energy-storage.news that this rapid retirement was creating a significant economic value proposition for solar-plus-storage projects in the Midwest. Associate director for gas, power and energy futures Sam Huntington described Indiana as a “real surprise” in terms of deployment with several very large battery projects for NIPSCO, including by NextEra Energy Resources.

When asked by Energy-storage.news why projects in Indiana have appeared to tend towards being on the large side, Tashakkori said: “The latest MISO capacity auctions (MISO’s 2022/2023 PRA- Planning Resource Auction) reveal an 8 GW shortfall in capacity resources in central MISO. This means higher prices for consumers to ensure grid reliability.”

“Larger transmission-level BESS systems like Monroe Power are key to efficiently providing that capacity, especially as utilities like NIPSCO continue to shift away from coal and towards renewables.”

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