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Microgrid project will keep lights on in Waterton townsites

Posted on April 25, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News

Waterton’s townsite will have reliable access to clean electricity, even during system maintenance, thanks to the completion of a micro-grid project.

During the April 20 open house event at the new FortisAlberta operations facility in Coaldale, the company gave an overview of their first battery storage system which will provide backup power for Waterton Lakes National Park townsite which is served from one single main power line. The new Waterton Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) will provide secure and reliable electricity to Waterton Lakes National Park and ensure grid access to the townsite during needed repairs or upgrades. This is FortisAlberta’s first battery storage system and will support the tourist destination in accommodating the massive influx of visitors during the busy travel season. According to 2021 census data, the Park is home to just 158 permanent residents, but sees a large influx of visitors, upwards of 400,000 during peak summer travel months. The BESS in Waterton will provide clean power to the town site for at least four hours during necessary system repairs.

Vanessa White is the Director of renewable and alternative energy at Alberta Innovates, and said the completion of the FortisAlberta Waterton Energy Storage project is, “a perfect example of how the energy innovation that we find really benefits Albertans.”

The technology will make electricity in the Waterton town site more reliable and will ensure businesses can continue to provide service without disruptions during the busy season. White said the project also,“encourages tourism within the national park and supports the economic prosperity for local businesses and residents.”

With over $1.2 million in funding for the project provided by Alberta Innovates, White was optimistic that the learning shared from this project will, “help encourage similar installations across other rural communities.”

Executive director of policy and engagement at Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), Tom McCaffery, said, “this technology allows Waterton the capability to be its own island during outages,” which McCaffery said, “is important because it happens here more than anywhere else in Alberta.”

He continued to say for the ERA, the completion of the micro-grid represents, “a great example of meeting our mandate to combat climate change and reduce emissions.”

McCaffery said beyond the environmental impact, the “social benefits” of the project will, “serve as a showcase for the technical, economic and social benefits of utilizing a battery storage system with movable generation and advanced distribution control systems to address reliability issues faced by rural customers,” and provide innovative solutions in the future.

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