Battery energy storage systems (BESSs) are being deployed on electrical grids in significant numbers to provide fast-response services. These systems are normally procured by the end user, such as a utility grid owner or independent power producer. This paper introduces a novel research project in which a research institution has purchased a 1 MW BESS and turned ownership over to a utility company under an agreement that allowed the institution to perform experimentation and data collection on the grid for a multi-year period. This arrangement, along with protocols governing experimentation, has created a unique research opportunity to actively and systematically test the impact of a BESS on a live island grid. The 2012 installation and commissioning of the BESS was facilitated by a partnership between the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) and the utility owner, the Hawaiian Electric and Light Company (HELCO). After the test period ended, HELCO continued to allow data collection (including health testing). In 2018, after 8500 equivalent cycles, the BESS continues to operate within specifications. HNEI continues to provide HELCO with expertise to aid with diagnostics as needed. Details about the BESS design, installation, experimental protocols, initial results, and lessons learned are presented in this paper.
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