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New Mexico regulators amend IRP rule to include energy storage

Early this month, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously to amend its rule governing integrated resource plans for electric utilities to include energy storage as a resource for utility planning purposes.

The New Mexico regulators took the action on Aug. 2, after receiving public comments on the topic at a hearing on May 31, the NMPRC said in an Aug. 9 news release.

The commission's rule on integrated resource planning, or IRP, was issued in 2007. The rule says that investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities must engage in a resource planning process that evaluates all feasible energy resources.

Energy storage "was not available as a commercially feasible energy resource" at the time the commission's IRP rule was adopted, the commission said in its news release.

Now, a decade later, "energy storage has become a commercially viable technology shown to improve the overall use and economics of the electric grid," the commission said. "Energy generated during low-cost, off-peak periods can be stored in batteries or by other means to serve load demands during peak, expensive, periods."

"All of the participants in this rulemaking case, including our three investor-owned utilities, supported this amendment to the IRP rule, a consensus reflecting that energy storage should be considered as a resource in New Mexico's utilities' long-term planning," said NMPRC Vice Chair Cynthia Hall. "Storage technologies provide the opportunity to lower electricity bills and more efficiently integrate renewable energy onto the grid."

"I am proud that New Mexico is leading the country in adopting practical policies to make sure
storage is considered on the same footing with other energy technologies," said Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. "The adoption of energy storage will help bring more renewables online and help power companies more efficiently use grid resources."

The order amending the IRP rule went into effect on Aug. 2.

In other news about trends in storage and other changes in the electric industry, a report from the North Carolina State University's NC Clean Energy Technology Center says that in the second quarter of 2017, 36 states plus the District of Columbia took a total of nearly 200 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, energy storage, microgrids, the utility business model, rate reform, and demand response.