Massachusetts doubles investment in energy storage

Source: Benjamin Storrow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017

Massachusetts will invest $20 million in 26 energy storage projects, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced yesterday, more than doubling the Bay State’s previous commitment to storage.

The state grants are part of an initiative that aims to see 200 megawatts of storage capacity installed across the commonwealth by 2020. Massachusetts originally committed to providing $10 million to finance pilot projects.

But state officials decided to double that number after receiving a bevy of strong proposals, Baker said in a ceremony at UMass Memorial Medical Center.

“For us, the way I want you to walk away thinking about this, storage is a strategic device,” Baker said. “It’s a tremendously powerful tool. As it reaches its full potential, it could be a game changer for what people pay for energy, how they access it and what that source of energy turns out to be.”

The announcement comes amid a flurry of activity in the storage industry. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and state lawmakers recently struck the outlines of a deal to boost the industry in the Empire State.

Massachusetts regulators last week approved an Eversource Energy proposal to build two storage facilities. The power distributor will be allowed to recover up to $55 million on its investment in a 5-MW project on Martha’s Vineyard and a 12-MW facility on Cape Cod.

Those developments mirrored the national installment figures released by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association yesterday. The industry deployed 41.8 MW nationwide in the third quarter, the groups said, a 46 percent jump in year-over-year installments.

Massachusetts officials said they hoped the state-financed projects would serve as pilots for the industry, identifying solutions for the regulatory, economic and operational challenges that need to be cleared in order for the industry to take off.

The projects financed by the state are expected to see $32 million in matching funds. They will be deployed in a variety of capacities. Eight of the projects are in the utility sector, helping to demonstrate how storage can be paired with renewables and integrated with the grid. Nine others will be installed at commercial venues.

At the UMass hospital, where Baker was speaking, a storage project is being deployed as part of a microgrid. Another project will be installed at a farm on Martha’s Vineyard, while still another will be deployed at a golf-ball-manufacturing plant in southeastern Massachusetts.