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Omnibus Energy Bill Passed In Massachusetts Includes Energy Storage

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Lawmakers in Massachusetts passed a bill recently that includes energy storage, wind power, and hydro power. It establishes an energy storage mandate, and requires distribution companies to enter into long-term contracts with wind power developers for 1.6 GW of nameplate offshore wind power capacity by 2027. 1.2 GW of clean energy procurement targets for hydro, onshore wind, and other renewables are also included in the bill. Gov. Charlie Baker has not signed it yet, but the expectation is that he will.

800px-Mass_statehouse_eb1The MA Department of Energy Resources (DER) is to figure out if it is appropriate to set energy storage targets for power companies in Massachusetts. This determination is to be made by the end of this year.

If the department finds in favor of such targets, then they will be adopted by July 2017. Under the bill, the department can use energy efficiency funds for energy storage if such a system reduces peak load at the customer site. Another of the bill’s provisions is that electric distribution companies can own energy storage systems.

California and Oregon already have energy storage mandates, and if the DER sets targets, Massachusetts will be the third state in America to have them.

The Energy Storage Association wrote this about the bill’s passage:

The legislation focuses on 4 main drivers for the use of energy storage:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce demand for peak generation
  • Defer or substitute for generation, transmission or distribution assets
  • Improve the reliable operation of the electric grid

Another thing worth mentioning specifically is the use of energy storage for emergency backup during storm outages.

Many news articles about energy storage are focused on the new battery systems coming out which can be integrated with home solar power systems, but energy storage is much bigger than that. It can be used by utilities in much larger installations, so it is encouraging to see something happening at a policy level. If Massachusetts sets energy storage targets, it will be interesting to see how much economic stimulation results, in terms of the deals made and jobs created.

Image Credit: fcb981CC BY-SA 3.0

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