An Ohio electric company has bought the rights to an abandoned
limestone mine so it can pump the cavern full of compressed air and let it out
to generate power during peak-use times.
The 600-acre cavern
will allow Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. to store energy generated by wind and
solar technology for use when customers need it most, the company said.
wind doesn't always blow when customers need electricity," said FirstEnergy spokeswoman
The utility, which has 4.5 million customers
in Northern Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, has no timetable to begin using
the mine, located in the Akron suburb of Norton.
says once operational, the commercial-scale compressed-air generating station
would be the second in the U.S. and only the third in the world. Other compressed-air
generating stations are working in McIntosh, Ala., and Bremen, Germany, the company
Other power companies are investing in the technology.
PSEG Energy Holdings, of New Jersey, is investing about $20
million in similar power storage research and plans to market and license the
During off-peak hours mainly at night, FirstEnergy
would generate electricity to run pumps that would fill the cavern with compressed
air, Raines aid. The utility would release the air during peak daytime use hours,
and it would turn turbines that generate electricity.
though there would be a net energy loss from the original electricity used to
run the pumps, the system would still benefit the environment because it would
cut the need to run power plants during peak use times, and it would store renewable
energy, Raines said.
The company would start small with about
268 megawatts of generating capacity, but the mine has the potential to generate
2,700 megawatts, FirstEnergy said.
The purchase price for
use of the mine plus 92 acres above it was not disclosed. FirstEnergy's generating
subsidiary bought rights to the mine from CAES Development Co. LLC.
of FirstEnergy rose 16 cents to $42.11 on Monday.