Powering Strong Communities

New California Law Facilitates Storage Deployment By Granting Zoning Exemption

California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed into law a bill that will facilitate the deployment of energy storage technologies by removing the requirement for development sites to be formally subdivided.

The legislation, sponsored by the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) and authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), grants an exemption to the Subdivision Map Act for energy storage systems to support California’s grid resilience and decarbonization goals. 

With the passage of the AB 2625, a portion of a parcel of land can be leased without the need for that parcel to be subdivided, allowing for more efficient development timelines and improved project economics, CESA said.

With the new law, energy storage systems can now receive similar zoning treatment as solar and wind energy projects.  

CESA said that the process of formally subdividing a parcel can be lengthy, and timelines can be prolonged substantially, depending on the jurisdiction and the parcel being subdivided. The timeline for processing and approving subdivisions can add months, at minimum, to the permitting process, given that final parcel maps are approved via vote by the local City Council or County Board of Supervisors, it noted. 

As permits must be secured at least a year before an energy storage system can begin operations, easing development barriers such as the formal subdivision of parcels “is a key strategy to integrate more clean energy technologies onto California’s grid more rapidly and cost-effectively.”

In a recent episode of the American Public Power Association’s Public Power Now podcast, Elliot Mainzer, President and CEO of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), detailed how CAISO is responding to the dramatic growth of utility-scale storage in the state.

While energy storage capacity has grown rapidly in California in recent years, CESA estimates California will need at least an additional 10,000 megawatts of new storage in the next decade.