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Stimulus funds for local energy-storage projects

Bay Area companies have been awarded more than $49 million in economic-stimulus funds for energy storage projects aimed at improving the efficiency and reliability of the nation’s electrical grid, the U.S. Department of Energy announced this morning.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $620 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money for 32 projects across the nation, leveraged with $1 billion in private-sector funds. California is getting about $175 million in ARRA funding to support more than $679 billion in projects.

“These demonstration projects will further our knowledge and understanding of what works best and delivers the best results for the Smart Grid, setting the course for a modern grid that is critical to achieving our energy goals,” Chu said in a news release. “This funding will be used to show how Smart Grid technologies can be applied to whole systems to promote energy savings for consumers, increase energy efficiency, and foster the growth of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.”

Alameda-based Primus Power Corp. will get $14 million for a wind energy “farm” that will store energy for the Modesto Irrigation District, replacing a planned fossil fuel plant. The project’s total cost is $46.7 million.

Berkeley-based Seeo Inc. will get $6,196,060 to develop and deploy a prototype battery system based on the company’s proprietary nanostructured polymer electrolytes; this new class of advanced lithium-ion rechargeable battery is expected to show improvements in energy density, battery life, safety and cost, and would be targeted for use in utility-scale operations such as community energy storage projects. The project’s total cost is $12,392,120.

Fremont-based Amber Kinetics Inc. will get $4 million to develop and demonstrate a new flywheel technology for use in grid-connected, low-cost bulk energy storage; this effort, in partnership with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is expected to improve on traditional flywheel systems to produce higher efficiency and lower costs competitive with pumped hyrdo technologies. The project’s total cost is $10 million.

And San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will get $25 million to build and validate the design, performance and reliability of an advanced, underground compressed air energy storage plant using a saline porous rock formation near Bakersfield. The project’s total cost is $355,938,600.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.