Massachusetts House approves study of mobile storage as grid resilience tool
- The Massachusetts House voted 146-0 July 12 to pass H. 4739, a bill seeking to improve grid resiliency through energy storage.
- The bill directs the state's Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to study the feasibility of mobile battery storage systems if downed substations would need an emergency replacement, Rep. Thomas Golden, D, told MassLive.
- The bill makes a small dent in the ambitious clean energy agenda set in the Senate's omnibus energy package, which was approved in June.
Massachusetts set a 200 MWh energy storage target by 2020, which state senators sought to increase this year to 2,000 MW of power capacity in energy storage by 2025. The Massachusetts Senate's energy omnibus also included provisions to set a 100% renewable energy standard by 2047, remove the state's net metering caps and consider adding 5 GW of offshore wind energy, among other stipulations.
The state's electric companies, Unitil, Eversource and National Grid, had also recommended higher voluntary storage targets of 200 MW, 500 MWh by 2020, and 600 MW, 1,500 MWh by 2025.
The DOER-set target was lower than expected, given the state's push to improve grid resiliency and use more renewable energy, but it is already beginning to attract projects. One of the policy concerns developers have expressed regarding the deployment of storage is the eligibility of systems under Massachusetts' net metering rules. The state's Department of Public Utilities raised that issue in a 2017 filing, seeking to determine if energy storage paired with distributed solar generation would qualify under the state's net metering policy.
The House bill does not increase the DOER target, but aims to spur more research of storage applications, such as a mobile emergency relief system. The goal for the mobile storage system would be to "shave peak demand and lower distribution costs when not in use for emergency purposes." The bill would have DOER submit recommendations based on that research by February 2020.
The House bill would establish an energy storage testing facility and an Energy Storage Innovation Research Institute to help Massachusetts meet its energy storage and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
The bill also includes requirements for utilities to file annual electric distribution system resiliency reports to DOER, encouraging companies to hold solicitations for non-wires alternatives for grid resiliency.
Utility Dive contacted NextEra, along with AMS and other storage developers for comment on the House bill, but did not get a response by press time.
The House has other energy bills to act on in this legislative session, which wraps up July 31.
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