Electricity Markets
Energy Storage

Imperial Irrigation District is No. 1 for storage MW in SEPA ranking

The Imperial Irrigation District, a public power utility in Southern California, took the No. 1 spot for the most energy storage, in megawatts, on a new "Storage Top 10" list created by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, or SEPA.

IID landed the top spot in the "megawatts" category by adding 30 MW of new storage last year, SEPA said April 26. The Sterling Municipal Light Department, the public power utility for the town of Sterling, Massachusetts, led the storage list for watts per customer, with 533 watts.

As it announced the results of its 10th annual utility market survey, SEPA said it had launched two new Top 10 lists for utilities that put the most new storage on the grid in 2016. As with its annual "Utility Solar" Top 10 lists, the SEPA Storage Top 10 includes one list for utilities that added the most new megawatts of storage — the category led by IID this year — and one for utilities that added the most new watts per customer, the category led by the town of Sterling.

On the Utility Solar Top 10, Southern California Edison ranked No. 1 for new megawatts, and the City of Palo Alto Utilities, a public power utility, was No. 1 for new solar watts per customer. All Top 10 winners were to be recognized April 26 at SEPA's Utility Conference in Tucson, Ariz.

"One of the reasons we started the Utility Solar Top 10 lists back in 2007 was to highlight the key but often unrecognized role utilities were taking in putting new solar on the grid," said SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm. "With utility-scale solar now well established as a mainstream power source, we wanted to similarly recognize utilities' leadership in realizing the full potential of storage to drive critical system changes that will benefit customers and the grid."

This year's Top 10 lists — both solar and storage — are based on data provided to SEPA by 412 U.S. utilities. Among the findings:

· Pacific Gas & Electric held the No. 2 ranking, behind SCE, on this year's Top 10 list for the most new megawatts of solar — the same spots the two California investor-owned utilities had on the first Top 10 list in 2007. However, the number of megawatts each added "has changed dramatically," SEPA said in an April 26 news release. SCE jumped from 409 MW in 2007 to 1,648 MW in 2016, while PG&E grew from 144.5 MW to 773 MW.

· The figures needed to make the Top 10 list for solar watts per customer have also shot up. The City of Palo Alto Utilities ranked No. 5 in 2007 with 20.4 watts per customer; this year, it earned the No. 1 spot with 2,753 watts.

· While California utilities continue to lead the nation in new megawatts of solar and storage, market growth in both sectors is spreading from west to east, SEPA said. On the 2017 lists, utilities in North Carolina and Georgia took four spots on the Top 10 for solar megawatts, while utilities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio took three spots on the Storage Top 10.

"SCE is proud to be ranked No. 1 and recognized as a solar leader among utilities for the second year in a row, and ranked No. 2 in storage capacity," said Caroline Choi, SCE's senior vice president of regulatory affairs, in the news release. "These rankings reflect our employees' efforts to make the clean, renewable energy our customers want more accessible."

"It's a pivotal time for the energy industry," said Vicken Kasarjian, energy manager for IID. "With the increase of variable renewable energy and distributed generation on the grid, battery storage can provide operational flexibility while increasing system reliability. It's exciting to see it come to life in the Imperial Valley, with IID leading the way."

Other public power utilities that appeared on the Top 10 lists were:

· the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which was fourth in the Utility Solar ranking by megawatts, and CPS Energy of San Antonio, which took the No. 8 slot in that category.

· Colton Electric, Roseville Electric and Pasadena Water and Power. The three California city-owned utilities ranked seventh, ninth and tenth, respectively, in the Utility Solar list for annual watts per customer.

· Glasgow EPB, the Imperial Irrigation District, and the American Samoa Power Authority, which took the No. 2, 3 and 4 spots in the new energy storage ranking, behind the Sterling Municipal Light Department.

IID, which got the top spot in the energy storage megawatt rankings, was the sole public power utility that made that particular Top 10 list. The others were, in order: Southern California Edison, Commonwealth Edison, Indianapolis Power Light, San Diego Gas & Electric, Duke Energy Ohio, Pacific Gas & Electric, Arizona Public Service, Puget Sound Energy and Green Mountain Power.

The complete 2017 Top 10 lists for solar and energy storage are available at sepatop10.org.