Energy Storage

Maine legislative commission calls for energy storage target

A panel of Maine lawmakers and stakeholders is recommending the state set an initial goal of adding 100 megawatts of energy storage by 2025 as it considers long-term targets.

The finding is part of a report recently released by a commission set up last year to explore the benefits of energy storage.

The commission is calling for “achievable” near-future policy actions, paired with further study and investigation to inform future policy action.

“This reflects the commission’s recognition that while it is important to move forward now, long-term advancement of energy storage needs to be based on well-developed policy, informed by quantitative data that is specific to Maine and that is technology neutral,” the report said, noting that Maine lags other Northeast states in adopting energy storage policies.

In part, energy storage could help Maine reach its renewable energy goals, which climb to 80 percent of retail sales by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050, according to the report.

“While renewable energy has many benefits, certain renewable resources have variable production and this is where storage can be of great value,” the report said. “During periods of time when the sun or wind is not available, energy storage can be used to address that gap by discharging stored energy.”

Besides setting a near-term storage target, the commission offered other recommendations that could be quickly implemented, such as offering incentives for energy storage to be included with renewable energy procurements.

The commission is also recommending that the Efficiency Maine Trust, which oversees the state’s energy efficiency programs, be given the authority to use energy storage to lower peak demand.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission should consider time-of-use rates to support energy storage, according to the commission.

“Energy storage increases the value of time differentiated rates by creating the opportunity to bank excess generation (supply) during non-peak periods when prices are lower and discharge that energy for consumption during peak periods when prices are high,” the report said.

The commission said the PUC should also clarify utility ownership for energy storage facilities.

“The commission recognizes that the question of utility ownership of energy storage resources is both unsettled and debated; therefore, it will be important to closely examine this issue to make sure that if ownership is allowed it is done so with appropriate ‘guardrails,’ such as applications limited to distribution level investment, as well as establishing processes that adequately allow private investment to satisfy identified needs, to ensure that ownership does not undermine the intent of the restructuring of the electricity sector,” the report said.

At the regional level, Maine should advocate for ISO New England to adopt wholesale market rules that support energy storage, according to the commission.

“As the regional transmission operator, ISO-NE is uniquely positioned to create wholesale market opportunities to realize the potential of energy storage, particularly with respect to certain aspects of grid operation and performance, including but not limited to frequency and voltage regulation, spinning and non-spinning reserves and restoring generation during grid outages (known as black start assets),” the report said.

In a long-term recommendation, the commission suggested that the Governor’s Energy Office propose future energy storage targets after it conducts an in-depth study on the costs and benefits of storage.

The commission noted that several states have set energy storage goals and requirements. They include: Arizona with 3,000 MW by 2030; California with 1,325 by 2024; Massachusetts with 1,000 megawatt-hours by 2025; New Jersey with 2,000 MW by 2030; and, New York with 3,000 MW by 2030.

The report includes draft legislative language the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology could use to implement the commission’s recommendations.

The Maine Legislature is set to reconvene on Jan. 8.