Alliant Energy photo of Deer Run Battery facility

CEDAR RAPIDS — There are batteries in our cars, our laptops, and even our toothbrushes, and now batteries are helping power homes and businesses in Cedar Rapids.

Alliant Energy has launched a pilot project which includes six large batteries at the city’s Deer Run substation. Utility spokesman Tony Palese says it’s an effort to complement Alliant’s growing renewable energy portfolio.

“Oftentimes, these battery systems are paired with renewable resources, like wind and solar. That can help smooth out those variations in energy production and shift energy to times that customers really need it,” Palese says. “So if it’s peak demand, if it’s shifting to night when the sun’s not out, or when the wind’s not blowing, these systems help us meet those customer needs.”

The system stores energy from the grid at times of the day when demand is low and releases it when it’s needed to power homes and businesses. The five-megawatt battery system can store enough electricity to power about 5,000 homes for two hours.

“This battery project is really designed to help meet that peak load demand and we’re excited to be able to study how it performs in the real world,” Palese says. “We understand the capabilities of the system and the technology, but really finding out how it’s going to function, what the best uses are, and how to most effectively utilize the system.”

Alliant has been using battery storage systems for several years, but he says battery technology has advanced to enable this new type of project which is designed to deliver greater efficiency and affordability.

“This all fits into our clean energy blueprint,” Palese says. “That’s really our roadmap to transition to more cost-effective, renewable energy, something that’s become especially important as we work to sustain that economic and environmental health of the communities we serve.”

This is Alliant’s fourth battery storage project in Iowa, joining those in Decorah, Marshalltown and Wellman. The Cedar Rapids project doubles the company’s battery storage capacity in Iowa.