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Primus to Supply Batteries for Storage Test in Northwestern U.S.

June 20, 2013

Primus Power Corp., a battery maker backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, plans to install two shipping container-sized systems for a test project next year that may store energy from intermittent sources such as wind.

The 250-kilowatt batteries will be able to store electricity for as much as four hours, Primus Chief Executive Officer Tom Stepien said in an interview yesterday. The systems may provide backup power for a wind farm, the San Juan Islands, north of Seattle, or a remote area “where there are some customer outages,” he said. The site hasn’t been decided.

Energy storage can help bank power from sources such as wind farms and solar plants that don’t operate at all hours of the day. Project-participant Bonneville Power Administration is seeking to balance surplus hydro and wind power on its transmission network and has invested about $2.5 million in energy storage technologies in the last three years, spokesman Joel Scruggs said yesterday.

The BPA, an agency of the U.S. Energy Department, markets wholesale power from 31 federal hydro projects, operates transmission lines in eight U.S. states and supplies about one third of the electricity used in the Pacific Northwest, according to its website.

Primus, based in Hayward, California, will install its batteries in utility Puget Sound Energy Inc.’s service territory, according to a statement today. Puget Sound uses BPA’s transmission system. Primus’s flow batteries consist of a liquid electrolyte that’s cycled through a reaction chamber.

Warm weather exacerbates seasonal snow melt and increases output at BPA’s hydro plants. The agency has curtailed wind generation 46 times since 2011 to manage surplus power and avoid redirecting water though spillways, which can endanger federally-protected fish species, Scruggs said.

Primus’s $2.87 million project will be funded by the battery maker, Puget Sound, the BPA and the Energy Department, Stepien said. The BPA is providing $979,925, according to its website. Stepien declined to say how much the other partners will contribute.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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