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Andrew Burger headshot

Stem to Install Smart Energy Storage at Extended Stay Hotels


Energy storage systems are catching on fast in California following passage of AB 2514 – legislation that requires the state's three principal investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to install 1.325 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2020. It's not only electric utilities that are deploying smart energy storage systems, however.

California is also offering incentives for installation of distributed, “behind the meter” energy storage systems at utility customer sites. The state government also requires that 200 megawatts of “behind the meter” energy storage capacity be installed, and a growing number, and variety, of organizations are capitalizing on the California Public Utilities Commission's (CUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) to help meet the state's goal.

An early leader in the fast developing market for advanced energy storage systems, Millbrae, California-based Stem on Sept, 30 announced it has finalized an agreement with Extended Stay America – the largest company-owned and operated hotel chain in the U.S. – to install and manage a fleet of "energy intelligence systems across 68 hotels in California."

Putting the "smarts" in advanced energy storage systems

Having successfully field-tested Stem's smart energy storage platform at one of its hotels in San Jose, California, Extended Stay will be rolling the system out across 68 sites in California.

Peak power demand and associated utility demand charges in California have been rising steadily over the past five years – at times dramatically. The state's record-setting three-and-a-half-year drought and recent heat wave have increased strains on the power grid and caused power outages around the state.

The coastal heat wave recently pushed electricity demand to near-record levels in the San Diego area. With temperatures well above the 77 degree seasonal average – they recently hit 104 in the desert community of Borrego Springs – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) stopped short of initiating emergency measures, such as a cutting power to large power users. The utility did, however, introduce a package of incentives that rewards customers for reducing power use in peak afternoon and early evening hours.

Stem's intelligent energy storage management platform can enhance the stability and resiliency of the power grid, as well as significantly reduce utility customers' peak-power demand charges. Stem's energy intelligence systems accomplish this by intelligently storing power when utility rates are low and supplying it from on-site battery storage at times of peak power demand, the company explains in its news release.

A fully automated, turn-key solution, end users of Stem's energy intelligence system can take a “hands-off approach” to installing and operating it. The advanced energy storage platform, moreover, does not have any impact on end-users' daily operations – two key factors in Extended Stay management's decision to deploy it.

“The Stem system is invisible to our guests and our staff – it’s simply a great way to save on energy costs,” Larry Fichuk, Extended Stay America's director of energy and sustainability, was quoted as saying. “In addition, the software provides us with a clear view of electricity usage and activity at our California sites. We look forward to the benefits and impact we can have on the environment from working with Stem.”

Financing intelligent energy storage systems installations

A pilot installation of Stem's PowerStore unit was installed at an Extended Stay hotel in San Jose in late 2013. The remaining systems are expected to be commissioned by early 2015, according to the news release.
“Extended Stay America has demonstrated its deep commitment to advancing the sustainability of its operations,” added Stem CEO John Carrington. “With the support of our energy intelligence solution, Extended Stay America strengthens this legacy while also benefiting from immediate and long-term energy savings. At the same time, this is an important milestone for Stem as we deploy our systems widely across California.”

Stem management is also having success when it comes to raising capital and making its advanced energy storage systems more affordable. On Sept. 16, management announced the creation of a new fund to finance as much as $100 million in new projects. Support for the fund is being provided via affiliates of New York City investment adviser B Asset Manager, according to a Stem press release. The first project to be financed by the new fund is an 11-MW installation in New York that is expected to go live in Q1 2015.

*Image credits: 1) Extended Stay America; 2) Stem/Extended Stay America

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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