New England Talks Solar, Storage and Public Policy

on December 18, 2018

RTO-InsiderBOSTON — Growing solar generation will be able to meet a third of peak load in Massachusetts in a few years, but as the grid is reaching the saturation point in certain areas, policymakers are looking to energy storage to help address some of the challenges.

“The grid was not initially designed for this much distributed energy … and we never envisioned 90,000 power plants out there,” Commissioner Judith Judson of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources said Friday at the 160th New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable run by Raab Associates.

Judson said the state now has more than 89,000 installed solar projects totaling more than 2,300 MW in each of its 351 cities and towns.

On Nov. 26, it launched the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) program, which provides incentives for projects on brownfields, landfills, parking lots and rooftops. “SMART provides a fixed revenue stream to reduce the cost of the program, and we are the first state in the nation to have a solar-plus-storage incentive,” Judson said.

It took the state a long time to launch the program because “we have a regulatory process in DOER and in the Department of Public Utilities, plus heavy stakeholder engagement,” Judson said. “But we’ve had over 2,850 applications for 650 MW in capacity submitted so far and $4.7 billion in cost savings to ratepayers compared to earlier solar programs, so I think it’s made for a better program.”

On Dec. 12, the state issued its Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP), including a provision for the state’s utilities to procure a combined 200 MWh of energy storage by 2020. (See Massachusetts Deploys Utility-Scale Energy Storage.)

Transition in Connecticut
“The grid modernization proceeding [Case 17-2-03] in Connecticut is a really promising opportunity,” said Mary Sotos, deputy commissioner of the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

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