The energy storage ecosystem has one crucial player — the “offtaker” or the utility company which delivers the energy to the end consumers. In this blog post, we talk to Jay Jeter, from Southern Company, one of the largest utilities in the US.
Jay recalls how just until recently, battery energy storage was not something very prominent on the minds of people working in the sector:
I worked as a co-op student in Southern Company’s planning group in 2012 (not even 10 years ago). At that time, sitting in full-time employees’ cubicles and picking their brain, I saw that pretty much everyone was skeptical on the validity of wind and solar itself at scale - let alone batteries. The plan was focused on cleaning up our coal plants with expensive environmental retrofits, or converting them to gas plants. Gas prices were low, so new gas plants seemed like the play.
Fast forward to 2020, energy storage and renewables have gained a lot more prominence and the skepticism has given way to thrust and innovation in this direction. Jay speaks about how things are evolving:
At Southern Power, which is the wholesale arm of Southern Company, I am now seeing that solar and wind energy have become massive pieces in the utility infrastructure. Also, I’ve learned that focus on innovative solutions and continuous exploration into new technologies is necessary if you want to lead in this industry.
In 2019, Southern Power partnered with esVolta. Jay talks about this partnership strategic importance, and his own learning curve:
We partnered with esVolta to support their growth in battery storage development, in a way that lets esVolta continue to grow and put projects onto the grid, but is also structured so that Southern Power maintains a preferred low-risk business strategy.
For me, being one of the main points of contact for battery operations and maintenance for Southern Power, the partnership has been great for me, as I’ve gotten to get live exposure to operating battery facilities and projects in active development. This is going to provide lessons learned, best practices, etc. to take forward as Southern Power expands its battery footprint in the future.
Way to go Jay, and wish you all the best on your Gigawatthours journey!