After hurricane power outages, looking to Alaska's micogrids for a better way

2017-10-23 - article heard on "All things considered" - October 16, 2017
In 2007, the utility set a goal of 95 percent renewable power. It built a handful of wind turbines, plus a bank of batteries to supplement the community's hydro power. That worked for a while. But then came a new challenge: the Kodiak port wanted to replace its old diesel-powered crane with a giant electric one.

The 340-foot tall shipping crane would be a massive power hog. Demand would spike every time it lifted a container off a cargo ship. When Rick Kniaziowski, the terminal manager for the shipping company Matson, first asked about getting it, the head of the local utility said no.

"His eyes got really big," Kniaziowski says. He was told, "Everyone's TVs are going to brown out, and they're either going to hate you or they're going to hate us.'"

But the utility looked around for a solution, and it found a European company, ABB, that offered a new kind of energy storage: flywheels.

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