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Commentaries and editorials

California Ramps Up Energy Storage Plans
with Enactment of Four New Bills

by Brian Kennedy
Renewable Energy World, September 28, 2016

(Steven Lane photo) Powin Corporation Chief Technology Officer Virgil Beaston, left, shows the inside of a shipping container to Pacific Northwest National Laboratory employees Vish Viswanathan, center, and Chunlian Jin during a tour of a new battery storage unit at the BPA Ross Complex. California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept. 27 signed four new bills into law that will boost both behind-the-meter and utility energy storage capacity. Incorporated within one bill -- AB 2868 -- the state government directs California's investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to ramp up their acquisition of distributed energy storage capacity by exploring the feasibility of investing in an additional 500 MW.

Energy storage is playing a growing role on California's power grids and behind utility meters. The massive leak at the Aliso Canyon underground natural gas storage facility and the resulting increased threat of power shortages has led regulators and utilities to advance their energy storage procurement schedules.

Over the longer term, utilities and grid regulators need to be able to integrate ongoing growth of distributed renewable energy generation capacity in light of the higher, recently enacted a target of renewables meeting 50 percent of utilities' generation assets by 2030.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) are in the process of acquiring 1.325 GW of energy storage capacity by 2020 as mandated by California AB 2514, the first energy storage mandate to be enacted by a U.S. state. Enactment of the four new pieces of legislation raises the bar and adds momentum to it.

"The passage of AB 1637 by Governor Brown makes way for increased adoption of climate-friendly energy storage projects while encouraging reliability and resilience of the electrical grid," Green Charge CEO Vic Shao told Renewable Energy World in response to an email inquiry.

Enactment of the four pieces of legislation also elicited praise from the California Energy Storage Association (CESA).

"California leads the world in the clean energy storage sector and the passage of this bill will translate into further opportunity for schools and businesses to benefit from storage solutions with no upfront costs," CESA said in a statement.

The industry association summarized the four new laws as follows:

"Collectively, these bills will grow behind-the-meter and utility-scale energy storage markets, create new clean energy jobs, reduce distributed energy resource interconnection challenges, and ensure that bulk energy storage is part of California's renewable energy future," CESA said. It has become clear that energy storage is going to play an important role in California.

"In different ways, all four of these bills facilitate adoption and use of energy storage," Alex Morris, CESA's director of policy and regulatory affairs, told Renewable Energy World. "They tackle different aspects of the challenge, but from a 'big picture' perspective, they're all about expanding the role energy storage plays, providing tools to integrate renewables and giving customers more ways to manage energy costs while ensuring grid reliability."

Brian Kennedy
California Ramps Up Energy Storage Plans with Enactment of Four New Bills
Renewable Energy World, September 28, 2016

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