- With bipartisan support, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week advanced a comprehensive energy storage package, reported as an amendment to the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act.
- Introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the BEST Act would require the federal government to support energy storage research and demonstration projects. Along with the attached bills, it would open a standardized path for utilities to recover storage costs in federal rate proceedings.
- The measure now heads to the full Senate, where supporters say there is enthusiasm. The Energy Storage Association (ESA) is lobbying for the bill to pass this session along with legislation to allow storage technologies access to the investment tax credit (ITC).
Support for the storage bill cuts across the aisle and storage experts say chances for the legislation advancing further are good.
The legislation reported out of the committee was crafted by several senators, including Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and others.
Leadership of the committee has considered moving the BEST Act by itself to the Senate floor, as opposed to moving within a package of other bills, "an indicator of the enthusiasm for this effort," ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman told Utility Dive in an email. ESA is working to "make sure it gets a vote this Congress — presumably after getting a successful passage of ITC eligibility for energy storage, for which the BEST Act is a natural complement," she added.
The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to establish an energy storage system research and development program aimed at reducing the cost and extending the duration of energy storage systems. It would also require DOE to take on a minimum of five energy storage system demonstration projects, including at least one designed to address seasonal variations in supply and demand.
Under the bill, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would need to develop a rule setting out standard processes for utilities to recover energy storage system costs in FERC-regulated rates. It also establishes a program at DOE to help utilities navigate the process of developing energy storage systems.
Heading to the full Senate, the BEST ACT now incorporates language from four additional energy storage measures that the committee considered at a subcommittee hearing in July.
The legislation ultimately aims to "improve the efficiency of our nation's electricity grid and help align research efforts on energy storage," Collins said in a statement. "Supporting current technology and advancing next-generation energy storage will allow us to integrate more renewables."
The BEST Act has been endorsed by a range of groups including ESA, ClearPath Action, the Union for Concerned Scientists, Edison Electric Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council.
The companion bill in the House, H.R. 2986, sponsored by Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., is pending before the energy subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.