Energy storage is an imperative part of a renewable energy future. Storage provides significant benefits to our electric grid like increased reliability, increased resilience, cost savings, the ability to integrate diverse energy sources, and lessening our impact on the environment through reduced emissions.
Increasing energy storage capacity will be integral to achieving our climate and economic goals. As solar energy capacity increases at record rates, storage will play an increasingly important role to provide electricity when the sun isn’t shining.
Energy storage adoption isn’t only contingent on the price and availability of components. As with all energy industries, policy plays a huge role in the economics and feasibility of projects. Policy action will be needed at the state and federal level to ensure that energy storage can be deployed in a cost effective way to meet the goals of a decarbonized future.
Let’s examine the two most recent states that have implemented thoughtful energy storage growth policies.
In June 2021, Governor Janet Mills signed LD 528, An Act To Advance Energy Storage in Maine, becoming the 9th state to adopt energy storage deployment targets. This legislation sets a state goal of 300 MW of installed energy storage capacity in the state by the end of 2025. The goal increases to 400 MW of installed capacity by the end of 2030. The goal of 400 MW of energy storage represents about 20% of Maine’s peak electric demand in 2020, which makes Maine’s goal one of the most ambitious nationwide. At the end of 2030, the Governor’s Energy Office will set a new state goal and repeat the goal setting process every two years after that.
At the end of 2021, Maine had approximately 50 MW of energy storage.
The state is enacting programs through the Efficiency Maine Trust to encourage energy storage deployment through innovative pilot programs. One such program is to add up to 15 MW of energy storage to critical care facilities like hospitals, emergency shelters, fire departments, and police departments, and more.
Earlier in June 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed S.B. 952, An Act Concerning Energy Storage, which established a 1 GW energy storage deployment target by 2030.
Connecticut has set a goal to use 100% zero-carbon energy by 2040. The plan to get there includes storage incentives and demand response to address the intermitacy with wind and solar energy.
Connecticut offers incentives for residential and commercial customers to install energy storage systems through the Equitable Modern Grid Initiative administered by the Connecticut Green Bank and local utilities Eversource and United Illuminating. The program, Energy Storage Solutions, officially launched on January 1, 2022. According to the Connecticut Green Bank, “average upfront incentives for residentials customers will initially be around $200 per kilowatt-hour, with a maximum per project incentive of $7,500. Commercial and industrial will also be eligible for upfront incentives, with a maximum incentive of 50% of the project cost.” All customers will also be eligible for performance incentive payments based on the average power a storage project contributes to the grid during critical times.
With equity in mind, Connecticut lawmakers included additional incentives and outreach efforts for low-income and environmental justice communities. The goal is that 40% of storage deployments will reach these communities.
Ultimately, storage policies and capacity targets mobilize action. It pushes the public, private entities, and governments to learn about and find opportunities to utilize energy storage and understand the benefits for our economy, the electrical grid, and our environment.
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