Calif. regulator cites importance of storage targets

on February 25, 2017

American-Public-PowerCarla Peterman, a commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission, said that among the many takeaways for regulators from California’s experience with energy storage deployment is the importance of setting targets.

Peterman made her remarks at an Energy Storage Policy Forum in Washington, DC, which was hosted by the Energy Storage Association and held on Feb. 15.

She said that setting energy storage targets is important because such a move sends a signal to the market and to utilities.

“I think that’s been a real measure of success, that we’ve seen so much procurement happen outside of the target RFOs [requests for offers]” issued by the state’s investor-owned utilities, Peterman said in her remarks at the ESA event.

Start early

Another key takeaway that regulators should consider? Start early, said Peterman. “Getting buy in to the procurement framework takes time and actually getting the procurement done takes time,” she said.

Peterman also said that regulators should allow for flexibility as the market develops. The CPUC commissioner said that “this is a new area,” which means it is important to have regular reviews and “be willing to change course.”

A tremendous amount of growth

She said that from 2000 to 2013, California developed 25 megawatts of energy storage. “Since we’ve adopted targets for energy storage,” over the last three years, “we’ve now approved 630 megawatts of energy storage. That’s a tremendous amount of growth,” Peterman said.

“You’re looking at a 200 percent increase year over year in the last three years,” she said.

Peterman said that the state’s 1.325 gigawatt by 2020 storage target “is the cornerstone of our energy storage work.” As a part of that target, “we set up a broader procurement framework, which has been useful in terms of evaluating storage, and enabling us to procure storage even outside of that framework.”

But it began with legislation, she pointed out, which “simply said, ‘PUC, look at this issue, consider setting targets, but if you do set targets, make sure that energy storage is viable and cost effective.’”

Peterman told the ESA gathering that as “you’re thinking about doing this work in other states, I can’t say enough how important the various stakeholder forums we had were in terms of deciding whether to develop targets.”

As the commission moved forward, it eventually proposed a target that includes targets for transmission-connected storage, distribution-connected storage and customer-side storage. There are biennial storage solicitations in California.

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American Public Power AssociationCalif. regulator cites importance of storage targets