“The times they are a’ changin’.” So goes Bob Dylan’s classic song from the ’60s, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to how we generate, distribute, use and store electricity. Having made great strides in enhancing performance and reliability and reducing costs, growing government support and incentives for intelligent energy storage solutions adds significant impetus to the growing wave of change sweeping across the U.S. power sector.
With far more distributed renewable power generation online than any other U.S. state, California, in October 2013, was the first to require its investor-owned utilities deploy energy storage capacity — a total of 1.3 gigawatts (GW) by 2020. Other state legislators and electric utilities weren’t far behind.
Working in conjunction with NYSERDA, New York State’s Energy Resource and Development Authority, Con Edison (Con Ed), New York City’s primary electricity supplier, in March announced an energy storage incentive plan. A key aspect of the Indian Point Center Energy Efficiency, Demand Reduction and Combined Heat and Power Implementation Plan, Con Ed intends to reduce electricity demand by 125 megawatts (MW) across its service area. Incentives for both battery and thermal energy storage amount to as much as $2,000 per kW of power storage. That’s in addition to $600 per kW currently offered by NYSERDA.
The Electrification of Transportation
In May, Hawaii Electric Co. (HECO) issued a request for proposals (RFP) to bring energy storage capacity on-line in order to better manage the growing amount of distributed solar and wind power generation on Oahu, which now stands at around 11 percent of supply. HECO subsidiary Hawaiian Electric is seeking proposals for large-scale energy storage systems that can store anywhere from 60-200 MWs for up to 30 minutes.
Following a year of debate, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and the island’s primary electric utility, Autoridad de Energia Electrical, issued minimum technical requirements governing the incorporation of energy storage capacity to all new renewable energy generation projects in the U.S. territory. Each project must be able to provide 45-minutes of a facility’s maximum generation capacity over one minute in order to smooth ramping up and down to meet fluctuating electricity demand.
Distributed, solar and renewable power generation, smart grid, automated metering, demand response and intelligent energy storage systems — they are all coming together and disrupting the U.S. power sector to a degree that hasn’t been seen since the advent of the Electrical Age around the turn of the 20th century.
Adding to this wave of fundamental change, electric vehicles (EVs) and supporting charging infrastructure figure to play a growing and key role in the transition to a distributed, clean energy.
By and large, U.S. power utilities — in the absence of legislation or new regulations — have been as or more reactionary in their response to this growing wave of technological innovation and industry change as they’ve been supportive or embracing. That stance is gradually shifting more toward the “supportive/embracing” end of the spectrum, however.
Industry association The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) recently released a report that focuses on the electric power industry’s effort to accelerate the expansion of electric transportation in commercial and retail markets, beginning with electric utility fleets.”
Utility Industry Gets Behind EVs
EVs, along with distributed power generation, smart grid technology and intelligent energy storage systems, open wide new vistas of business opportunity for electric utilities. Capitalizing on them requires flexibility and adaptability, as well as a willingness to experiment, take on and manage risk. It also requires a firm commitment from senior management and buy-in from stakeholders, including utility customers and employees.
In “Transportation Electricification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” EEI urges investor-owned electric utilities to spend at least five percent of their fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric (PEV) vehicles and technology.
EEI’s investor-owned utility CEO’s selected PG&E Corp. chairman and CEO Tony Earley and Portland General Electric CEO and President Jim Piro as co-chairs to guide the EEI Electric Transportation Task Force. As EEI explains, the task force’s mission “is to champion the issue of electrification by increasing the awareness, opportunities, and activities related to electrification within the utility industry, collaborating with automakers and other stakeholders, and educating the public at large about the benefits of electric vehicles and technologies.”
Added EEI President Tom Kuhn, ““The electric power industry is a tremendous leader in supporting electric transportation, but we must continue to strengthen our efforts and lead by example. One way we can do that is by leveraging our industry’s buying power to purchase more PEVs for our fleets,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The white paper released today is a road map for a long-term, coordinated effort to further spur the development of electric vehicle technologies in the electric transportation market.”
At Green Charge Networks we have been working at the cutting edge of smart energy storage innovation since 2009. We’re encouraged by the performance and response of GreenStation customers — including major commercial and industrial companies and municipalities — to date, and we’re especially encouraged to see greater numbers of industry, such as EEI’s membership, recognize the important role intelligent energy storage and management technology can play in the transition to cleaner, healthier and sustainable electricity and transportation future.
Lead image: Electric vehicle via Shutterstock