Battery Project on Remote Maryland Island Selected for Award Negotiations by U.S. Department of Energy



Chris Cosby, senior vice president of power supply at ODEC

­Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) has been selected to receive federal funding to develop an innovative energy battery project on Smith Island in Somerset County, Maryland from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). DOE announced Friday, Sept. 22, that the project was one of 15 selected projects that will be funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. ODEC’s project will improve grid resiliency for Smith Island (Md.) and Tangier Island (Va.) in the Chesapeake Bay and will contribute to national research on long-duration energy storage (LDES) solutions to boost renewable energy deployment across the country.

The federal funding will be negotiated this fall as part of $325 million available from DOE Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), with funds designated explicitly to advance battery technologies capable of delivering electricity for 10-24 hours or longer. The Smith Island project will aim for a battery discharging 700 kW of electricity for up to 18 hours and is part of a joint submission receiving funds to help bring cutting-edge, long-duration energy storage to five electric cooperative-served communities.

“ODEC is honored to be selected by DOE and excited about the possibilities of pioneering energy innovation and grid resilience simultaneously,” said Chris Cosby, senior vice president of power supply at ODEC. “The Smith Island battery project will enable ODEC to provide more reliable, clean power during hurricane season, winter storms and other outages to our most remote members at the end of the line.”

“Batteries that have the ability to store and release energy at controlled times have great potential to benefit Smith and Tangier Islands,” said Butch Williamson, president and CEO of A&N Electric Cooperative. A&N is the distribution cooperative serving the islands, which are connected to the Eastern Shore mainland by underwater electric cables.

“We fought to pass the infrastructure modernization law to invest in everything from rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges to improving the reliability of our electric grid with clean energy and advanced battery storage technologies. Our efforts to make power systems more resilient require partnership with not-for-profit energy cooperatives that fill a critical gap in meeting the energy needs of communities like these. These federal dollars will help provide renewable, reliable power that Smith Island residents can count on when extreme weather strikes,” said U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

“The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and I’m proud to have helped secure federal funds to spur clean energy innovation and resiliency efforts on Tangier Island. I’m glad to see the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continue to support projects across the Commonwealth,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA).

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is critical to helping us boost clean energy production, improve energy storage, and help ensure communities can access the power they need day and night,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA). “I’m glad the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative is receiving this funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build a long-term energy storage system to help more communities, including Virginians on Tangier Island, access reliable energy.”

“Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure law to bring innovative clean energy solutions nationwide, including the Chesapeake Bay watershed and our Maryland coastal communities; it is exciting to see these funds help move this battery storage project forward,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), who has worked to ensure the federal government is a partner in the clean energy transition. "This federal investment will help provide the infrastructure necessary to achieve our clean energy goals."

“Electric cooperatives are an integral part of the communities they serve, and as not-for-profit organizations, their actions are rooted in doing what’s best for people and the community,” said Mike Keyser, president and CEO of the National Renewable Cooperative Organization (NRCO). “This chapter of the story is about co-ops bringing innovation to rural America that provides new economic opportunities while also enhancing grid resilience and charting a path to a cleaner energy future.”

NRCO applied for the DOE funds with five generation cooperatives. Aligning to the cooperative principle of concern for community, NRCO and its participating member cooperatives will engage relevant stakeholders and uphold local values and priorities, while also providing citizens with a voice throughout the process.

The five projects were selected with attention to disadvantaged populations within each cooperatives’ rural service area and represent different regions of the country with distinct climate profiles and resilience challenges.

“From cold Midwestern climates to the salty air of barrier islands on the Eastern Shore, the sites our members have selected will help demonstrate to other utilities the many beneficial uses for long-duration energy storage and continue the electric cooperatives' legacy of innovation,” Keyser added.

This project will also serve as a source of data for the DOE’s Rapid Operational Validation Initiative (ROVI). The technology provider, Invinity Energy Systems, is a global leader in the production of vanadium flow batteries (VFBs) with high efficiency and long lifespans. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will carry out the techno-economic analyses and data collection for the project to inform decision-making and provide valuable insights into the potential benefits of VFBs.

More information about OCED and the ROVI program can be found on DOE’s website.