TVA to build power storage plant

Tennessee Valley Authority has launched construction of the nation's first large-scale, battery-like power storage facility which will store electricity during off-peak periods and retrieve it during times of peak power demand.
   A groundbreaking ceremony was held recently on a site near Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Miss., where TVA is planning to introduce the new technology. The project is expected to cost in excess of $25 million and is to begin operation in 2003.
   TVA Chairman Glen McCullough Jr. said, "This innovative energy storage plant is designed to improve power reliability and customer service, have limited environmental impact, and contribute to economic growth for consumers in Mississippi and throughout the Tennessee Valley."
   Technology for the facility was developed by Regenesys Technologies Ltd., of the United Kingdom. The plant is designed to store up to 120 megawatt hours of energy and provide power for 10 hours or more to some 7,500 homes.
   During times of low electricity demand, the plant will be "charged" by a chemical process using power generated at other plants. During peak power demand times, the process reverses itself to transmit the stored energy.
   TVA Director Skila Harris said customers will benefit through a reduction in the need for high-cost generation during times of peak use.
   "It also helps us make more efficient use of available resources," she said.
   According to Regenesys Chief Executive Officer Andrew Duff, the TVA project will be the first use of Regenesys' technology in the United States.
   "It will be a further demonstration of the benefits that the Regenesys energy storage system can bring to the operation of large power networks," Duff said.
   The plant, which will be about the size of a four-story building, requires approximately two acres for site development. The project is expected to create approximately 60 jobs during the construction phase, which will last about two years.