Demand Shifter device stores energy for local utilities provider - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Demand Shifter device stores energy for local utilities providers

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- Local utility companies are testing some new technology in hopes of becoming more energy efficient. If tests go as planned, you could end up saving on your electric bill.

Benton PUD, Franklin PUD and the City of Richland are partnering with Batelle to use a new device called the Demand Shifter. It can store energy when the demand for it is low and then use it when the demand for power is high.

Around the time people get home from work power use goes way up. People turn on the lights, AC, and washer all at one time. It puts a big demand on the power grid and it gets pricey.

Ron Melton is project director for Battelle's Smart Grid Demonstration Project that monitors the device.

"Demand Shifters are a technology that lets them charge up a battery when power is abundant and relatively more cheap, say in the middle of the night. Then when it's a peak time like 5pm instead of buying more power from somewhere else, they can use the power that's stored in the battery," says Melton.

By storing power, utilities won't have to keep paying peak time prices.

"Power demands rise and hit a peak. So Benton PUD and any utility at that time of day may have to go out and buy extra power from people that are just waiting to sell it to them at a high price," says Melton.

"Any time we save energy and be more efficient then we're going to save dollars and those savings are passed on to our customers," says Karen Miller of Benton PUD.

The information from Battelle's energy use monitoring systems is sent to the device to find the right times to store energy at the best prices. It's also a way to take full advantage of natural energy resources.

"We are using new energy such as wind and then there's solar and we need to know how to store them and at this point technology is very new and this equipment is technology that we're going to learn about storage," says Miller.

Battelle is also looking at opportunities to create smaller devices that can attach directly to energy using products, like a water heater, to store energy.