Massachusetts Sets Energy Storage Target

solarindustrymagJuly 2, 2017420

In accordance with bipartisan energy diversification legislation signed by Gov. Charlie Baker,  R-Mass., in August 2016, the Baker-Polito administration has announced a 200 MWh energy storage target for Massachusetts to be achieved by Jan. 1, 2020. The target, set by the state’s Department of Energy Resources (DOER), builds upon Baker’s Energy Storage Initiative (ESI), a $10 million commitment to analyze opportunities to support local storage companies and develop policy options to encourage energy storage deployment.

In order to continue supporting the development of energy storage in Massachusetts, the administration has also announced up to $10 million in additional funding for energy storage demonstration projects that are consistent with the findings of the ESI’s “State of Charge” study. According to a press release, the administration has also committed DOER to examine the benefits of amending the Alternative Portfolio Standard to expand the eligibility of energy storage technologies able to participate.

“As the commonwealth continues to make unparalleled investments in renewable energy, energy storage technologies have the potential to play an integral role in effectively deploying these new resources,” says Baker in the release. “This target, paired with our Energy Storage Initiative, will cause the state and industry to lead the way on exploring the most cost-effective deployment of energy storage for Massachusetts’ ratepayers.”

The State of Charge report, released by DOER in September 2016, identified hundreds of millions of dollars of potential ratepayer benefits from the deployment of energy storage in Massachusetts. Since issuing the report, DOER has already implemented a number of the study’s recommendations to promote energy storage in the Massachusetts, according to the press release.

“State of Charge showed that energy storage has the potential to be a game changer for Massachusetts,” says Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton. “The 200 MWh target, developed with the feedback of a wide range of stakeholders, will build upon the Baker-Polito administration’s commitment to growing the deployment of energy storage throughout the commonwealth.”

“The commonwealth is leading the nation in opportunities to pair energy storage with renewable energy, from our new solar incentive program, SMART, to the newly authorized clean energy procurements,” adds DOER Commissioner Judith Judson. “This target is an important next step in developing the energy storage market in Massachusetts and better informing the state and industry on best deployment practices.”

Under the 2016 energy diversity legislation, DOER was directed to determine “whether to set appropriate targets for electric companies to procure viable and cost-effective energy storage systems,” and the agency has been working on setting such a storage target ever since the agency later found it “prudent.”

According to the press release, the new 200 MWh storage target is meant to fulfill the intention of the legislation in a way that complements the planned course of the ESI so that the state can learn about the most cost-effective and viable deployment of energy storage and inform future policies. Additionally, the target sets a flexible goal for the electric distribution companies to identify the most cost-effective applications and the best locations for energy storage deployment, including both in front-of-the meter and behind-the-meter applications.

“Massachusetts should be congratulated for their holistic efforts to incorporate energy storage into multiple state programs focused on clean energy and grid reliability,” says Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association. “We look forward to working with the Baker-Polito administration and leaders in the legislature to build upon this initial target so that Massachusetts residents can reap the benefits of a more reliable, flexible and affordable electric grid.”

Chris Rauscher, director of public policy at Sunrun, says, “We are encouraged that the administration and the legislature have taken this initial step to advance energy storage in Massachusetts. The decision by DOER to set a soft energy storage target of 200 MWh is a moderate first step in providing long-term market surety. Growing the storage market in Massachusetts has the potential to support local job creation and lower costs for Massachusetts ratepayers, all while providing critical resiliency through backup power. We look forward to working with legislators to expand the potential for storage by encouraging private investment in Massachusetts through programs like the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.”

Based on lessons learned from this initial target, DOER will determine whether to set additional procurement targets beyond Jan. 1, 2020, according to the press release.

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