Energy Storage

FERC’s Powelson says storage offers ‘far reaching benefits’ to grid

Robert Powelson, a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on Feb. 14 said that energy storage provides “some far reaching benefits to the grid and, more importantly, to consumers.”

Powelson made his remarks at the Energy Storage Association’s Energy Storage Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.

Powelson appeared at the forum one day before the federal agency is scheduled to vote on an order related to the participation in organized wholesale markets by electric storage resources and distributed energy resource aggregators.

“I think it really shows how this FERC is into innovation and our commitment to markets,” Powelson said at the ESA event in reference to the expected action at the commission’s monthly meeting.

FERC storage and markets NOPR

FERC’s expected action at its Feb. 15 monthly meeting stems from a notice of proposed rulemaking it issued in November 2016 (Docket Nos. RM16-23, AD16-20).

The NOPR proposed to require regional transmission organizations and independent system operators to revise their wholesale power tariffs to better remove barriers to RTO-run wholesale market participation by energy storage resources such as large battery systems.

The NOPR would also require RTOs and ISOs to allow aggregators of distributed energy resources to participate directly in the organized wholesale electric markets, and similarly remove barriers to DER aggregator participation.

In comments it filed in early 2017, the American Public Power Association said it generally supports FERC's efforts to allow storage and distributed energy resources to participate in wholesale markets, but urged the commission to keep its main focus on the end result to electricity consumers, and offered a number of recommendations. The Association was joined in its comments by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

RTO and ISO rules

Meanwhile, Powelson said, “I’d be remiss here this morning if I didn’t give a shout out to the New York ISO, the first grid operator in this country right now to implement and approve market rules for energy storage resources.”

Powelson went on to say, “I think it’s important that our ISOs and our RTOs work to adopt” regulatory rules “so that this industry can compete and be part of that.”

In December, the NYISO released a report in which it outlines a timeline for the integration, development, and deployment of a new NYISO market participation model for energy storage resources, or ESRs, sized 0.1 megawatts and above.

In the report, The State of Storage: Energy Storage Resources in New York’s Wholesale Electricity Markets, the NYISO examines the technical, regulatory, and market landscape for ESRs and outlines the steps it will take to develop a full market participation model.

‘Profound changes’ happening across the bulk power system

Powelson said that there are “profound changes” taking place across the U.S. bulk power system. “I think it’s fair to say that the way we generate, transmit and distribute power across the 50-state compact is changing – it’s changing in a good way. Resources are getting cleaner, they’re getting more efficient.”

The FERC commissioner said that in 2017, 10 percent “of our dispatch came from renewable energy.” Powelson said that “the reality is that 10 percent of renewable energy dispatch is probably going to be 15 to 20 percent over the next decade and it’s led to, as I like to say, market-based decarbonization in a good way.”

Along with Powelson, forum attendees also heard from officials from several states on various energy storage topics.

Carla Peterman, a commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission, discussed the PUC’s recent approval of rules for energy storage resources that can provide multiple services.

Alicia Barton, president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, discussed various storage topics including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of a 1.5 GW storage deployment target by 2025 and commitments of $260 million in financing and demonstrations.

Separately, utility regulators from Washington State, Arizona and Hawaii, and an official with the Maryland Public Service Commission, discussed their perspectives on storage in integrated resource planning, grid modernization/distribution planning, and public policy-driven planning efforts.