In times of great change, innovation becomes the norm. Already ahead of the curve for tapping plentiful solar, wind and other renewable sources, California continues to feed that trend. The state recently announced new, mandatory green-building standards. Now, power purveyors in Southern California are turning to technologies of efficiency to squeeze even more juice out of the proverbial lemon that is the state’s electricity supply.

In January, the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA), a joint powers authority consisting of 11 municipal utilities and one irrigation district, teamed up with Colorado-based Ice Energy. Together, they announced what they are touting as the nation’s first cost-effective, utility-scale, distributed energy-storage project.

The 53 megawatt (MW) project, to be implemented by SCPPA member utilities throughout Southern California, will permanently reduce the state’s peak electrical demand by shifting as much as 64 gigawatt-hours of on-peak electrical consumption to off-peak periods every year, reducing exposure to costly peak power and improving the reliability of the electrical grid.

The energy-storage system leverages the higher efficiencies associated with generating and transmitting power off-peak, storing it at thousands of distributed locations, and employing the smart grid to intelligently dispatch the energy during times of peak demand.

Installation of the storage systems will begin in the first half of this year, with deployment scheduled over two years.