Grid Scale, Hydropower

Grid Operators to Pumped Hydro Storage Companies: Talk to Us

On Monday and Tuesday, June 25-26 in Charlotte, NC at the Grid-Scale Storage Summit, grid operators from ISO New England, PJM, and California ISO explained that now is the time that all energy storage companies need to be attending meetings and adding their voices to the mix because grid operators are currently in the process of defining rules around how they will meet FERC’s Order 841, which allows energy storage to participate in wholesale markets.

Related: FERC 841 Opens Markets to Energy Storage

In a session on grid-scale storage policy at the summit, energy attorney Jennifer Mersing with Stoel Rives gave the audience a deep dive into the order and explained that grid operators — ISOs and RTOs — have from now until December to finalize rules for how they will allow energy storage to participate.

Laura Walters, a senior economic analyst with PJM said in an interview that her organization is holding stakeholder meetings almost every day and urged all energy storage providers to attend meetings to make sure their voices were heard.

John Simonelli, Director, Operations Support Services with ISO New England said in a session on “the big picture” that he views pumped storage hydro plants in his territory as “jewels in the fleet” and wished there were more of them. He added, however, that it’s increasingly difficult to build anything in New England where “NIMBY — not in my backyard” has turned into to “NOPE — not on planet earth”

Related: Representatives of California ISO, PJM and ISO New England speaking at Grid-Scale Storage Summit

Battery energy storage companies have been very vocal in stakeholder meetings according to the grid operators who said they don’t hear enough from the hydropower industry.

Mersing explained that while FERC orders are intended to be technology neutral, sometimes rules are put in place that inadvertently exclude technologies, such as including timelines for deliverables that would be too short to meet for pumped hydropower.

Shannon Ames, Executive Director of the Low-Impact Hydropower Institute gave the audience advice about how to effectively “get a seat at the table” regarding state and local policy. She advised the audience to be respectful and kind to the staffers at state offices who will most likely be young.

“The staffers are your allies. Treat them with respect,” she said. She added that bringing friends to meetings to show wide support for your cause is good practice for those that want to effect change.