Energy Storage in California Finally Getting Attention it Deserves

Energy storage is gaining important and well-deserved policy attention in Sacramento due to its wide-ranging potential. Last month, Assembly Bill 2514, which focuses on energy storage, overcame a major hurdle when it passed through the rigorous Utilities and Commerce Committee.

AB 2514 is sponsored by California Attorney General Jerry Brown (front running Democratic candidate in this year's governor’s race) and authored by Nancy Skinner (founder of ICLEI, former director of The Climate Group and one of the Legislature’s top environmental leaders).

Brown and Skinner identified an effective way to advance energy storage technologies in California. The bill calls for increasing the consideration of energy storage by requiring the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to advance a rulemaking process where storage technology is evaluated based on both the costs and the range of values it can provide.  The bill requires the CPUC and utilities to look beyond ability to simply discharge energy and toward a full-scope evaluation that's not currently performed.  Utilities will then be assigned targets for installing storage technology in their service territories over the next decade.

AB 2514 has a way to go to become law, including votes on the Assembly floor and by the State Senate and State fiscal committees. If California is to meet its renewable energy portfolio standards and energy demand and cut greenhouse gas emissions, this bill should get full consideration and support.

Either way, the tide may be turning in the direction of increased energy storage. Consider:

  • The Cal-ISO is performing pilot testing to see how certain storage applications respond to remote signals.
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) through Order 890 is also requiring system operators to allow storage providers to price in the value of the ancillary services when competing for energy market share.  
  • Numerous large greenhouse gas emitters are buying storage to reduce energy costs and gain the benefits of storage. 

These advances send a strong signal that widespread energy storage is a great idea whose time has finally come.  Storage can and should be compared against the entire range of energy solutions. It should then be strategically integrated into a package of solutions designed to meet California’s ambitious clean energy and emissions reductions goals.

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