Energy Storage Industry Hopes for Stroke of Gov. Cuomo’s Pen

June 30, 2017
New York looks poised to be another big win for the energy storage industry, pending the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on an energy storage target bill passed recently by lawmakers.

New York looks poised to be another big win for the energy storage industry, pending the signature of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a recently passed bill to create an energy storage target.

Cuomo has yet to show his hand, but energy storage advocates are hopeful that the already green-leaning governor will sign SB 5190/AB 6571. The bipartisan legislation requires that the public service commission set a target for energy storage, but gives the commission the flexibility to transform it into a mandate.

“We’re hopeful that he will move forward with it,” said Matt Roberts, ESA vice president. “It checks a lot of boxes in New York.”

Should the target go forward, it puts New York on a path to join California, Massachusetts and Oregon in specifying that a certain amount of energy must come from storage. Massachusetts, which passed its energy storage law last year, is scheduled to put a number to its target any day.

To many observers New York seems like a no-brainer for an energy storage target, given the complimentary policies it is pursuing. The state has an aggressive mandate to meet 50 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030 and reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030. New York also has committed at least $40 million for microgrids (which often use energy storage) through its NY Prize. In addition, New York has one of the nation’s most advanced policies to promote local and distributed energy through its Reforming the Energy Vision.

Roberts said that energy storage offers a solution to an expensive economic problem faced by New York — its overbuild of energy infrastructure to ensure it can meet peak demand. It cost $1.7 billion to keep the power flowing during the state’s 100 hours of peak electric use. In all, New York has about 39 GW of power capacity, while only needing 16-17 GW, representing “a lot of excess capital invested in that system to be able to address an incredibly infrequent and entirely predictable need,” Roberts said.

Energy storage has long been considered the holy grail for the electric grid’s expensive peak power problem. Energy storage can absorb energy when its plentiful on the grid for release when it is scarce and in demand. A decline in battery prices has put this solution in reach for more states.

Resilience doesn’t come from coal-fired plants

Roberts said that energy storage also fits with the state’s post-Superstorm Sandy push for resiliency.

“Resiliency doesn’t come from coal-fired plants, it doesn’t come from natural gas-fired plants. Resiliency comes from flexible, dynamic distributed assets,” he said.

In pressing for mandates, the energy storage industry is following a path that has proved highly successful for renewables. About three-fifths of the states now have renewable energy requirements. Known as renewable portfolio standards, the state programs are credited with playing a central role in the rise of green energy in the U.S.

“I think these type of arrangements do have a purpose in the industry,” Roberts said. “At the end of the day the goal is for utilities and regulators to work together and look at these opportunities, not just for storage, but for demand response, for microgrids, for all of these new technologies. We have to make sure that regulation and policies are keeping up with the technologies that are commercially available.”

Sponsored by Sen. Joseph Griffo and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, the bills passed both chambers unanimously. Under the legislation, the PSC would create an energy storage deployment program with a procurement target for 2030.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of EnergyChangemakers.com. She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.

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