Batteries, Energy Storage, On-Site Power

FirstLight acquires Massachusetts university energy storage projects

New England energy storage firm FirstLight Power announced this week that it is acquiring 2.6 MW in battery systems installed at two Massachusetts universities.

At the same time, FirstLight announced it was entering into a strategic partnership with seller AMS, which currently owns the portfolio of energy storage sites. The two systems are located at Brandeis University and the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

“FirstLight’s vision is to grow and diversify as a company and to lead our industry in providing innovative, environmentally friendly energy solutions,” said John Shue, CEO of FirstLight. “This acquisition helps us achieve that vision, particularly by diversifying our existing fleet. FirstLight’s expertise in optimizing energy storage resources will also help the Commonwealth continue to transition towards a cleaner energy future.”

The acquisitions are FirstLight’s first foray into electro-chemical battery storage. The Brandeis and UMD systems both can operate for up to two hours.

The system at UMass Dartmouth began operations last summer and is currently the largest behind-the-meter battery system operating in the ISO-NE system.

The systems FirstLight acquired include a 1.044 MWh Tesla PowerPack system at UMass-Dartmouth that is integrated with a 1.8-megawatt onsite cogeneration system, 600 kW wind turbine, and 300 kW of solar photovoltaic generation. The 1.6 MWh Tesla PowerPack system at Brandeis, in Waltham, Mass., charges and discharges behind the meter as a demand-response unit.

As part of the transaction, FirstLight will retain AMS to operate and manage the batteries to optimize revenues under a fixed-term, fixed-price contract with potential performance incentives. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

“Recent changes in the ISO-New England market are enabling greater participation of distributed resources, and in particular storage resources,” said Sidd Manjeshwar, CFO, of FirstLight. “This transaction and strategic partnership with AMS represents a step in the right direction to address fuel-security for our customers Brandeis and UMass Dartmouth, and an opportunity to diversify in energy-storage markets we understand well through our management of the Northfield Mountain and Rocky River energy storage systems.”

FirstLight currently operates two pumped-storage hydroelectric storage facilities – Northfield Mountain and Rocky River Station. The company hails Northfield Mountain, located in Erving and Gill, Massachusetts, as the largest energy storage project in New England. It supplies a maximum output of 1,168 MW and a total of more than 8,700 MWh of capacity of energy storage, enough electricity to power more than one million homes for over seven hours each day.

The Rocky River Station in New Milford, Connecticut, is the oldest energy storage facility in the United States and has an output of 29 MW.
FirstLight’s portfolio also includes more than 200 MW of conventional hydropower and solar generation capacity in Connecticut and Massachusetts.