Regulators in Washington State on Wednesday issued a policy statement telling investor-owned utilities in the state they should include energy storage in their planning processes.
The statement presents a framework aimed at guiding the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) in its ongoing rulemaking for integrated resource plans (IRPs) that regulated utilities file with the commission every two years.
The statement does not set a specific storage integration methodology, but establishes an expectation that utilities will demonstrate reasonable consideration of energy storage options in their IRPs.
Regulators in a growing number of states are including energy storage in their planning processes. Though it fell short of a full-fledged mandate, Massachusetts in June set a 200 MWh energy storage target.
And New York is in the process of developing an energy storage target. Now Washington is moving closer to its neighbor Oregon, which in January released guidelines and timelines for its energy storage mandate.
Washington’s policy statement does not set out specific targets, but outlines expectations and practices that call for the state’s IOUs to include cost and benefit analyses for energy storage in their IRPs.
The statement also encourages utilities to use more detailed planning models, and said it expects the IOUs to use publicly available energy storage modeling tools, such as those provided by national laboratories associated with the Department of Energy.
The statement also tells utilities in the state that its regulation of energy storage will follow the same principles applied to all other utility investments. And the statement encourages utilities to pursue state and federal funding opportunities to minimize investment risk, and it encourages utilities to consider consumer level energy storage investments.
“Energy storage is a key enabling technology for utilities to accomplish the goals of the state’s energy policies,” the UTC said in the statement. “Washington’s investor-owned utilities should be working diligently to identify and pursue cost-effective opportunities to incorporate energy storage into their systems.”