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Battery-backed virtual power plant nears completion in Southern California

SNL Image

Lithium-ion batteries, controlled by Advanced Microgrid Solutions and installed at an Irvine Company building
in Orange County, Calif., offer grid services to the California ISO.
Source: Advanced Microgrid Solutions Inc.

Just three months after closing a $100 million debt financing deal, an affiliate of Macquarie Group Ltd. has closed a followup debt financing to complete a network of battery-backed buildings in Southern California designed as a virtual power plant, the company announced March 26.

CIT Group Inc., which led two previous financing rounds, also led this third financing deal for an undisclosed amount. Prior investors Rabobank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and new investor ING Groep NV also participated in the latest round.

Since acquiring the project in 2016, Macquarie has been co-developing the network with software specialist Advanced Microgrid Solutions, which has a contract with Edison International utility Southern California Edison Co. to reduce peak demand on the power grid. The project involves 63 MW/340 MWh of behind-the-meter batteries installed at commercial, industrial and government sites in transmission-constrained areas of Orange and Los Angeles Counties. The latest financing targets 97 MWh of installed storage capacity to complete the project in 2019.

"We see a growing need in California and elsewhere for both behind-the-meter and in-front-of-the-meter storage," a spokesperson for Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc. said in a March 26 email, noting that Macquarie has a "continued strong appetite to develop and invest in this new class of green energy infrastructure."

The virtual power plant is designed to offer grid services such as flexible and reserve capacity, solar integration, and voltage management, as well as retail energy services like demand management, backup generation and enhanced power quality, according to Macquarie.

The project delivered more than 2 GWh of grid services to the California ISO in its first year of operation, Advanced Microgrid Solutions said in a March 19 news release. "By using batteries to replace fossil fuels for peak demand in a region like Los Angeles, California is proving that 100% clean energy policies can be achieved anywhere in the world," said Susan Kennedy, CEO of Advanced Microgrid Solutions.