Storage Solution in the Smokies:
Should Duke Energy build a new microgrid system in Hot Spring, North Carolina?
Introduction to Hot Springs
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Hot Springs, North Carolina (Figure 1); a small town north-west of the bustling metropolis of Asheville, has issues with its current power grid. The town's energy comes from a 10 mile 22.86 kV feeder line coming from Marshall, NC. This feeder is unpredictable and extended outages are common with it. The year is 2022 and Duke Energy is trying to come up with the best solution to the Hot Springs energy problem. There are many different solutions to this situation, but Duke and their Distributed Energy Group leader, Jason Handley, as well as their Renewables Sector leader, Paul Draovitch, have narrowed it down to three different solutions. The top three solutions Handley and his team are choosing between an advanced solar microgrid with storage, adding an additional feeder line to Hot Springs, or updating the existing line. They have to be careful choosing the right alternative as each one costs different, takes a different amount of time to build, and will affect the environment differently.
Duke Energy is wanting to expand its renewable energy resource, but that is expensive and Duke is a profit centered company as well. But if Handley and the team did decide to go with the microgrid, it would be the first of its kind to fully power a town in the event that its main power source is cut off. This would be a proving point to others that this is possible and can be done. The other solutions would most definitely be cheaper and would still improve the grid in Hot Springs. Which solution will Handley and the team decide on, will it be what's best for the town, what's best for Duke, or will it be beneficial to both?