In the first quarter of 2017, more than 100 stakeholders, including utilities, technology providers, system operators, and state regulators submitted comments on the extensive notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) initiated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to encourage deployment of energy storage and aggregated distributed energy resources. While there has been no further official action at FERC (perhaps due to a lack of quorum from February 4 to August 9, 2017 and the need for a new commission to reassess priorities), an increasing number of states and utilities continue to advance investments in energy storage technologies:
- In mid-October, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission issued a policy statement directing utilities to consider energy storage in their resource planning and procurement activities. While the statement does not go as far as setting a procurement mandate, it establishes an expectation that utilities will, among other things, model the sub-hourly benefits of a range of different storage technologies and include a storage alternative in their analysis of resource options.
- Also last month, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities launched an investigation of the eligibility of energy storage systems for net metering and the role of net-metered resources in forward capacity markets.
A recent Smart Electric Power Alliance report on US energy storage deployments underscores that energy storage will continue to expand even though the timing and scope of federal regulation remains unknown. According to the report, utilities interconnected more than 200 megawatts (MW) of energy storage to the grid in 2016, bringing the total energy storage in operation nationwide to 622 MW across 2,399 systems. Even more staggering, GTM Research currently forecasts an elevenfold growth in the size of the 2016 market to 2.5 gigawatts (GW) by 2022.