CA adopts game-changing energy storage targets


The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has unanimously passed a decision to build high-tech energy storage systems that will further enable California's renewable energy future and move the state closer to building a modern, sustainable power grid, establishing an energy storage target of 1,325 MW for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric by 2020, with installations required no later than the end of 2024.

Long Beach, California. Credit: WPPilot/Wikimedia Commons

The guiding principles of the decision are 1) the optimization of the grid, including peak reduction, contribution to reliability needs, or deferment of transmission and distribution upgrade investments; 2) the integration of renewable energy; and, 3) the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, per California's goals.

According to the decision, the state's investor-owned utilities must begin buying a combined 200 MW of energy storage technology by 2014 and reach 1.3 GW (1,325 MW) by the end of 2020. This is currently the largest target in the world and is likely to increase California's installed capacity sixfold from its current 35 MW.

The decision, pursuant to Assembly Bill 2514, directs the utilities to file separate procurement applications containing a proposal for their first energy storage procurement period by March 1, 2014. The decision further establishes a target for community choice aggregators and electric service providers to procure energy storage equal to 1 percent of their annual 2020 peak load by 2020 with installation no later than 2024, consistent with the requirements for the utilities.

The decision allows utilities to employ energy storage for a variety of functions throughout the electric power system, such as capacity, ancillary services, and peak shaving, which in turn will provide real-world data for further market expansion.  Energy storage systems can be deployed in three "grid domains" -- transmission-interconnected, distribution-interconnected and behind-the-meter-interconnected.

Energy storage technologies are a key enabler for renewable energy in strengthening the grid and shaving peak loads. Although only emerging as a commercially viable industry, energy storage holds a potential to change the way energy industry operates, according to Frost & Sullivan. Currently, a host of new technology solutions are on the edge of commercialization or being tested on an industrial scale, and Frost & Sullivan predicts major energy storage breakthroughs in the next two to four years.

"Energy storage has the potential to be a game changer for our electric grid, and I fully support the goals of grid optimization, integration of renewable energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," said CPUC Commissioner Mark J. Ferron.  "As the utilities procure storage, we should evaluate the projects on whether or not they fulfill a system need at a reasonable cost."

For more:
- see the decision

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