CT examines energy storage, grid improvements

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has opened a proceeding to implement a state law advancing energy storage systems and other improvements to the electric grid.  The Distributed Energy Resource Integration Demonstration Project program is designed to find best practices on how different grid-side system enhancements can be reliably and efficiently integrated into the grid in a manner that is cost-effective for all ratepayers.  The recently opened case has the potential to lead to significant investment in energy storage in Connecticut and other grid advancements.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, was established on July 1, 2011 as a combination of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Utility Control as well as other state energy policy staff.  DEEP has a dual mandate of conserving, improving and protecting Connecticut's natural resources and environment, as well as supporting economic development by making cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy available.

In June 2015, the Connecticut legislature passed a sweeping bill formally known as June Special Session Public Act 15-5, An Act Implementing Provisions of the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2017, Concerning General Government, Education, Health and Human Services and Bonds of the State (“the Act”).  Section 103 of the Act requires Connecticut electric distribution companies to submit a proposal or proposals to DEEP for demonstration projects to build, own, or operate grid-side system enhancements, such as energy storage systems.  Proposals are supposed to:
  • Demonstrate and investigate how distributed energy resources (DER) can be reliably and efficiently integrated into the electric distribution system;
  • Maximize the value provided to the electric grid, electric ratepayers, and the public from distributed energy resources; and
  • Complement and enhance the programs, products, and incentives available through the Connecticut Green Bank, the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, and other similar programs.
As an initial step in the implementation of this program, DEEP has opened a proceeding to establish priority goals and objectives for the DER Integration Demonstration Projects.  The proceeding includes opportunity for public comment, as well as a stakeholder workshop scheduled for October 5.

Ultimately, Connecticut's electric distribution companies will propose specific demonstration projects for approval first by DEEP, then by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority or PURA.  Much emphasis has been placed on energy storage systems as a likely beneficiary of the program.  Other grid-side system enhancements could include distribution system automation and controls, intelligent field systems, advanced distribution system metering, communication, and systems that enable two-way power flow.  DEEP has until January 1, 2017 to evaluate the approved proposals and report to the state's legislative committee with jurisdiction over energy.

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