Electric storage resources technical conference set

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

U.S. energy regulators have scheduled a technical conference to discuss electric storage resources and how they could fit into the electric grid -- and how they might be compensated for doing so.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will convene the discussion on November 9, 2016.

An electric storage resource is a facility that can receive electric energy from the grid and store it for later injection of electricity back to the grid.  Different projects might use different storage mediums -- for example, batteries, flywheels, or pumped hydropower.  A storage resource could be as small as a household battery, or as large as gigawatt-scale pumped storage. Projects could be interconnected in various ways -- such as to the transmission system, distribution system, or behind a customer meter -- and could serve different markets, ranging from regional transmission organizations and independent system operators, to transmission or distribution utilities, to customers or end users of electricity.

While each energy storage resource configuration offers its own different advantages and disadvantages from various perspectives, overall the Commission has noted that "storage resources may fit into one or more of the traditional asset functions of generation, transmission, and distribution."  In the Commission's Notice of Technical Conference, it expressed a desire "to explore the circumstances under which it may be appropriate for electric storage resources to provide multiple services, whether the RTO/ISO tariffs need to include provisions to accommodate these business models, and how the Commission may ensure just and reasonable compensation for these resources in the RTO/ISO markets."

The specific subject of the conference described in the Notice is "the utilization of electric storage resources as transmission assets compensated through transmission rates, for grid support services that are compensated in other ways, and for multiple services."  The Notice also sets up discussion of other issues including
(1) potential models for cost recovery for electric storage resources utilized as transmission assets, while also selling energy, capacity or ancillary services at wholesale;

(2) potential models to enable an electric storage resource to provide a compensated grid support service (like a generator providing  ancillary services under a reliability must-run contract) rather than being compensated for providing transmission service; and

(3) practical considerations for electric storage resources providing multiple services at once (i.e., providing both wholesale service(s) and retail and/or end-use service(s)). 
FERC will webcast and transcribe the conference, in addition to allowing in-person attendance.  The Commision directed those wishing to participate to submit a nomination form online by 5:00 p.m. on October 14, 2016.

Energy storage is attracting increased interest.  In another open docket, the Commission issued a series of data requests and a request for public comment in an effort to identify barriers to electric storage resources' participation in organized electricity markets in the U.S that could lead to unjust and unreasonable wholesale electricity rates.  In 2009, then-Chairman Wellinghoff testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the role of grid-scale energy storage as it relates to U.S. energy and climate goals, including its ability to integrate variable resources such as wind and solar into the grid.  Meanwhile, states too are pursuing storage opportunities.  A Massachusetts state energy office has issued a report finding that Massachusetts has the potential to develop for 600 MW of energy storage by 2025, which could lower costs, reduce carbon emissions, and improve grid reliability.

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