California Sets 50M W Target for Grid Energy Storage

That’s how much energy storage capacity the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is asking Southern California Edison to procure over the next eight years, according to a final decision issued.

It’s not a lot, compared to the total of 1,400 to 1,800 megawatts CPUC is asking the massive Southern California utility to procure between now and 2021 — but it’s still among the first, if not the first, state regulatory rulings that put grid storage at center stage.

The new decision also certifies energy storage as “preferred resources,” alongside energy efficiency, demand response and distributed generation resources, in California’s Energy Action Plan, which tells utilities in which order they’re to buy the power and energy resources they need. Wednesday’s decision sets aside an additional 600 megawatts of capacity for SCE to obtain from such preferred resources.

All in all, it’s a “much-needed market signal that energy storage will be considered as a key asset class to help California address its long-term local reliability and environmental quality needs,” according to Janice Lin, executive director of the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA). CESA’s member list includes some heavyweights in batteries (LG Chem, Panasonic, Saft), as well as two ice-energy air-conditioning storage players that happen to have significant operations in California: Calmac and Ice Energy.

Wednesday’s CPUC ruling comes amidst a years-long process to set energy storage requirements for the state as it grapples with the challenges of its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) ambitions. California wants to grow its share of grid power from renewable resources (mostly intermittent wind and solar, though some baseload geothermal and biomass as well) from about 20 percent today to 33 percent by decade’s end.
Jeff St. John,