Energy Storage

New Maine law calls for study of energy storage target

Janet Mills, Maine’s Democratic governor, on Thursday signed a bill into law that calls for the establishment of a commission to study the economic, environmental and energy benefits of energy storage.

 The law charges the commission to submit a report by Dec. 4, 2019, that includes suggested legislation that must include, among other things, the adoption of a procurement target for energy storage systems, both behind the meter and connected to transmission and distribution lines, if those systems are found to be beneficial to ratepayers in the cost-benefit analysis required by the law.

The cost-benefit analysis called for flows from the commission’s duties outlined in the law, namely, a review of the benefits of energy storage, an examination of whether the benefits of energy storage support updating the state’s energy policy to increase the role of energy storage, and a consideration of the challenges that transmission and stranded renewable energy generation in northern Maine and whether or not energy storage is part of the transmission solution.

In considering the benefits of energy storage procurement targets, the law says the report must look at cost savings to ratepayers from the provision of services such as energy price arbitrage, capacity and ancillary service payments and transmission and distribution asset deferral or substitution; direct cost savings to ratepayers that deploy energy storage systems; an improved ability to integrate renewable resources; improved reliability and power quality, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The report is charged with weighing those benefits against the effects of leaving current policies in place.

The law calls for the establishment of a 13-member commission within 30 days that includes two members from the state’s Senate and three members from the House of Representatives. The Senate is charged with appointing four members to the commission composed of representatives from the energy storage industry, the hydroelectric energy storage industry, a Maine electric utility, and an academic in the energy storage field.

The House of Representatives is charged with appointing four members to the commission composed of representatives from a conservation organization, a business in the state that uses a significant amount of electric power, a large scale battery storage owner, and a small scale battery storage owner.

Maine does not yet have sizeable deployment of energy storage, according to a 2018 report by the Center for the New Energy Economy.

While individual utilities in New Hampshire and Vermont have energy storage pilot programs under way, in New England only Massachusetts has passed a state energy storage procurement target.

Several public power utilities in Massachusetts have developed storage projects including Ashburnham Municipal Light Plant, Sterling Municipal Light Department and Holyoke Gas & Electric.

The Connecticut legislature in June passed a bill that allows utilities in the state to own energy storage facilities and to put them into ratebase.