States and PUCs requiring energy storage

Nov 2020 –

Even in the midst of COVID19, this year has seen considerable state action on the clean energy front, both through the state public utility commissions, and with legislation. Arizona’s Corporation Commission voted earlier in November to advance rules that include a five percent of peak load energy storage target. Maryland’s Public Service Commission approved a number of energy storage pilot projects that each demonstrate multiple use and ownership models of energy storage. In Nevada, the Public Utilities Commission adopted a deployment target for energy storage.

On the legislative front, we saw Virginia’s Clean Economy Act codify into law, which includes renewable standards and a record-setting new energy storage procurement target by 2035 – 3,100MW! 

Maryland’s HB 980 improved upon a first-in-the-nation state tax credit programme for businesses and households installing energy storage systems for resilience and bill savings – proving that where federal policies stall out, states can lead the way.

In the past, you’ve described energy storage as a technology and concept which enjoys bipartisan support. Energy storage has also seen record breaking deployment figures in the US year-on-year, albeit with an understandable slowdown due to COVID. What sort of changes do you foresee in the post-Trump era?

We are encouraged to see that despite the ongoing COVID pandemic, the energy storage industry is continuing to grow. In fact, the second quarter of 2020 saw 168MW of storage deployments, which is up 72% quarter-over-quarter and up 117% year-over-year, marking the strongest second quarter to date. Even through COVID, grid operators must continue to keep the lights on, and storage is increasingly being selected to help with that.

Over the past several years, energy storage has maintained bipartisan support in an otherwise polarised era. We are confident that the industry will continue to advance, and even accelerate, under a new Biden/Harris administration. With an increased focus on decarbonising the grid to offset the impacts of climate change, the energy storage is a natural fit to enable the desired resilience and flexibility for non-dispatchable resources. We look forward to continuing our drive for energy storage policies that value and compensate flexibility, encourage domestic energy storage supply chain and innovation, and promote equitable electric system resilience.

ESA and our members urge the 117th Congress and the Biden/Harris Administration to fulfill the promise to “build back better” by promoting domestic energy storage supply chain and innovation; promoting equitable electric system resilience; and establishing market designs that value and compensate grid flexibility.

On the impact of COVID and ultimately on economic recovery: have the impacts on the energy storage industry been as bad as some feared and what sort of role can energy storage play in the conversation around “building back better”?

The second quarter of 2020 set records for deployments, despite the expectations, and in some cases the real delays in construction, permitting and customer acquisition caused by COVID-19. While battery storage deployments were expected to triple this year, they doubled. That’s still significant growth.

As we have said in our 2030 Vision, at least 100GW of energy storage will be necessary over the next decade to make a clean energy transition viable. Energy storage will also be critical for frontline communities to have electric service resilient to extreme climate events like heat waves, wildfires, storms, and hurricanes. Energy storage will enable this clean and resilient power while reducing peak demands on the power system, thus saving money for utilities, businesses, and homes, and serving as a foundation for a new domestic manufacturing industry with a large international export market.