Glacier demonstration project

At approximately 4 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, the transmission line feeding the town of Glacier experienced an outage, causing the substation to lose power. The Glacier battery facility successfully powered the downtown “island” for approximately 4 hours. After the transmission line was re-energized around 8 a.m., the system operators began restoring the town to the PSE grid. The entire town was reenergized in the 9 o’clock hour.

The batteries will be recharged and the facility will be re-armed to be able to respond to future outage events. Through studying this outage, PSE’s engineers will better understand the capabilities of the facility to power the town during future unplanned outages.

Thank you for your patience.

Utility-side solutions for outage
mitigation and balancing demand

PSE has installed a 2-megawatt (MW), 4.4 megawatt-hour
(MWh) lithium-ion battery system adjacent to the existing
substation in Glacier, Wash. in Whatcom County. The project is funded in part by a $3.8 million Smart Grid grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce, in addition to a
$7.4 million investment by PSE. The Glacier demonstration project is designed to perform
three primary functions:

  • Serves as a short-term backup power source to “island” a portion
    of the local Glacier circuit during outages
  • Reduces system load during periods of high demand
  • Balances energy supply and demand, helping to support greater integration


Islanding: a technology in its infancy

PSE has been testing battery islanding in the town of Glacier since 2016. Glacier is located in a remote location, and the 55 kV radial transmission line serving the town runs along a heavily forested and scenic highway, which can make it challenging for repair crews to locate and repair electrical problems during storms. This location makes the town a prime location for us to evaluate the performance of the battery system and its contributions to the power grid.

Utilities across the country are testing islanding (also sometimes called “microgrid”) technology, with varying degrees of limited success. The process of islanding is complex because it requires so many moving parts working in concert to be a success. That includes not only the battery power plant facility but also various pieces of equipment in the Glacier substation and along nearby poles to all work and respond according to custom computer code.


Unfortunately, testing requires power outages which inconvenience our customers. To minimize disruption to customers, we use already planned outages for transmission line work to complete
our testing.


As of early 2018, PSE has had three successful islanding attempts at Glacier. Plans are in place to continue testing the battery capabilities under planned outage scenarios such that an automation scheme will eventually provide backup power during unplanned outages. Our goal is that by summer 2018 the islanding automation is enabled and able to respond to unplanned outages.


The glacier battery will serve as short-term back up power source to a core "island" of businesses and residences during outages.