Grid order draws concerns

Source: BY KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

President Donald Trump’s executive order last week prohibiting U.S. electric utilities from installing grid devices from foreign adversaries is causing concern among renewable energy and power storage providers, Pro’s Gavin Bade reports.

Clean energy providers say they support the order’s intent, which is tied to the threat that devices could pose to national security. But they worry the list of devices the Energy Department is planning to investigate as part of the order is so broad that developers will put projects on hold over concerns that components may eventually be banned.

“The initial [order] from the White House is structured as the announcement of a ban, to be followed some months later by guidance from the DOE which will indicate exactly what is banned,” said Gregory Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy. “A structure like that is going to have unfortunate repercussions in a business sector that wants stability and needs the capacity to plan.”

Concern is particularly acute for the energy storage sector, which was on track to add record levels of battery capacity this year before the coronavirus crisis hit. DOE will release a rulemaking proposal within 150 days that details what devices will be singled out for bans or increased oversight. But Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association, said members need clarification as soon as this week if all the sector’s planned projects are to move forward.