The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) is considering adopting a 1,000 MW statewide energy storage target for utilities for the end of 2030, crafting a proposal more than two years after the legislature passed a bill directing it to look into storage goals.
The commission’s proposal would create biennial targets, beginning with 100 MW by the end of 2020 and then ramping up to 400 MW and 800 MW by 2024 and 2028, respectively. Utilities would be required to file progress updates with the commission beginning in 2022.
- The proposal, which was submitted to the state Legislative Counsel Bureau on Nov. 26, could be finalized sometime in early or mid-2020, according to Cameron Dyer, staff attorney with the Western Resource Advocates’ (WRA) clean energy program.
The proposed regulation has been “a long time coming,” according to Dyer. SB 204, the bill that directed the commission to look into requiring utilities to purchase storage, was passed in 2017. Regulators then commissioned a report on the costs and benefits of storage, which was filed in October 2018. The report, compiled by the Brattle Group, found that the most cost-effective amount of storage for Nevada’s market conditions in 2030 lay in the 700 MW to 1,000 MW range.
Increasing its storage capacity is also critical to Nevada’s renewables goals. In April, the state legislature passed a bill requiring 50% of electricity to be generated from renewable resources by 2030, up from a 25% RPS target by 2025. The bill also sets the state on a trajectory towards being 100% carbon-free by 2050.
The storage proposal was crafted through a stakeholder process that included the U.S. Energy Storage Alliance and WRA, and was submitted to the commission by NV Energy. The 1,000 MW target might have seemed ambitious in 2017, but is much more attainable today thanks to the shrinking cost of batteries and the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that applies to batteries coupled with solar energy, according to Dyer.
In June, NV Energy proposed to procure 590 MW of energy storage as part of an amendment to its integrated resource plan. The commission will vote on this proposal on Wednesday and, if approved, it will put the state seven years ahead of schedule on its proposed storage target.
“Obviously, being with an environmental organization, I’m very optimistic about the fact that I think we can easily reach a 1,000 MW target and probably double that by 2030 — but there are so many variables there,” Dyer said.
These variables include the price of batteries, market issues related to the availability of lithium as a commodity, and the phasing out of the ITC, beginning in 2020, he added.
The 1,000 MW target is also only a fraction of the storage that the state will need as NV Energy moves towards its stated long-term goal of providing customers with 100% renewable energy. The utility hasn’t put a date on reaching that target, but “if NV Energy is trying to reach that goal and they make steps in that direction, 1,000 MW is nothing. They will easily exceed that very quickly,” according to Dyer.
The PUCN might not get around to actually voting on the storage proposal until the middle of 2020, he added. Once the Legislative Counsel Bureau reviews the language of the regulations and ensures they align with the statute, the proposal will be sent back to the commission for further additions and subtractions over the course of a workshop and final hearing.