SAN JOSE, Calif., May 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and the California Energy Commission today unveiled an innovative battery energy storage system pilot project to better balance power needs of the electric grid. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project was held at HGST, Inc's facility in east San Jose. The Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System Pilot Project charges batteries when demand is low and then sends reserved power to the grid when demand grows. The system has the potential to provide important services for balancing energy supply and demand, helping to support greater integration of intermittent renewable generation, as well as improving power quality and reliability for customers. "Battery storage holds tremendous promise in helping electric utilities like PG&E enhance the overall reliability of an ever-changing energy supply," said Greg Kiraly, PG&E's senior vice president of distribution operations. "This pilot project will provide critical, real-world data on the technical and financial performance of battery energy storage to help us understand how battery storage devices can serve PG&E's customers and the overall electric grid." The project was made possible thanks to a $3.3 million grant from the Energy Commission to PG&E that will help fund the installation and evaluation of the system. "Investments in energy storage are critical to California reaching its renewable energy goals," said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. "Energy storage demonstrations like the Yerba Buena battery storage system in San Jose will improve efficiency and reliability in the electricity supply and facilitate the integration of clean, intermittent renewable resources, such as solar and wind, within the electrical grid." This smart grid project is a utility-scale sodium-sulfur battery energy storage project. It has a 4-megawatt capacity, and can store more than six hours of energy.