Storage technology, innovation to come under review

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, October 2, 2017

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week will examine energy storage technologies as a tool to make the grid more resilient against natural disasters and to back up renewable power.

The U.S. energy storage industry has grown dramatically in recent years, increasing 243 percent in 2015 alone. But supporters say batteries and other storage technologies are disadvantaged in the tax code and in regulations.

The committee said in a statement the hearing would examine the current state of energy storage and “innovation in tomorrow’s technologies.”

Lawmakers in both chambers are pushing multiple bills to provide new financing streams and establish Department of Energy programs.

“Widespread use of energy storage could help integrate renewable energy resources into our grid, support robust microgrids,” Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) said at a hearing last week.

Heinrich introduced several storage-related bills last week, including one that would set up an investment tax credit for the technology similar to what exists for the solar industry (E&E Daily, Sept. 28).

In a recent interview, Energy Storage Association spokesman Matt Roberts noted that current market rules weren’t designed with storage in mind and tend to favor fossil fuels.

As one example, he said Midwestern regulators require equipment that helps manage spinning metal for some services on the grid. Storage systems use a virtual system and don’t qualify, he said.

A rule under consideration by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could help, according to ESA. It would require regional grid operators to set clearer rules for energy storage.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) joined other senators in sending a letter last week urging FERC to complete the rule, and said he received promises from newly installed FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee that the rule was nearly complete and would not be “unduly delayed.”

A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers launched the Advanced Energy Storage Caucus earlier this year led by Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) to promote energy storage policies. Last week, the group held a meeting to discuss how storage could help keep power on after natural disasters.

Schedule: The hearing is Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 10:30 a.m. in 366 Dirksen.

Witnesses: TBA.