BLUFFTON — Congressman Bob Latta said Tuesday while touring an AEP storage system in Bluffton that energy storage technologies have the potential to increase the viability of renewable energy sources.
Latta toured the facility with approximately 20 AEP officials Tuesday morning to learn more about the system. He serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Scott Osterholt, AEP grid modernization director, said the storage facility was installed 10 years ago.
“It provides backup service for the Bluffton area and the ability for part of Bluffton to be out of power and this battery would provide power for up to 10 hours,” Osterholt said.
Bluffton is the only existing grid battery location in Ohio. There are three new grid battery locations in Ohio planned for improving reliability for 2020-‘21 in Minford, Pomeroy and Amsterdam, Ohio.
Some smaller microgrids being deployed this year are at the zoo in Columbus, the wastewater treatment plant in Athens, Ohio, and a new city building in Upper Arlington.
Latta said in 2008 when he served in the House there needed to be an alternate energy policy established in the country.
“It’s about looking at nuclear energy, clean coal to natural gas, hydro and alternative energy,” Latta said. He said when looking at solar and wind energy it is helpful to have stations like AEP’s energy storage system.
“As we legislate and regulations follow, we want to make sure that we have these systems in when there are outages,” Latta said.
As a congressman, he said he has promoted energy independence by working on bills to make sure there is the capacity to meet energy needs in communities.
Latta said he was born in Bluffton and his cousins have worked at the former McIntosh now Tower plant and his uncle helped manage that plant for years.
“I have seen this area grow. We need to make sure we have power in our backyards and it’s making sure it is available for residential, farmers, commercial and industrial,” Latta said.
He said his district has the largest farming implement distribution in the state of Ohio and there are over 60,000 manufacturing jobs.
“The United States is fortunate because we can out produce the Russians and the Saudis in oil production and we have become the largest national gas producer in the world,” Latta said.
When asked what can be done to encourage renewable energy he said it is about making sure there are the right regulations.
Steve Root, AEP region support manager, said the station helps service commercial clients off of I-75 as well as residential areas.
“One of the benefits of putting it here is that this battery will support these customer classes in an outage,” Root said. He also said the battery will help the community if there would be a long-term power outage.
There is a 15- to 20-year life span on the battery. Maintenance of the system takes place once a year.
The system has a converter that transforms the battery to alternating current of 480 volts and a converter that controls the protection of the battery. There is a green box that serves as a transformer that is taken up to primary voltage levels, according to Paul Thomas, AEP distributions system planning supervisor.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.