Our nation’s transition to a renewables-based energy future continues to gain momentum, despite the challenging times we face. Now more than ever, innovative policy frameworks are important drivers to accelerate our clean energy future with no compromise on how we use energy.
While we can agree that Renewable Portfolio Standards encourage adoption of clean, renewable generation technologies like solar or wind onto the grid trailblazing policies like Massachusetts’ Clean Peak Energy Standard (CPS) don’t come along every day. Finalized and approved in late March, and anticipated to take effect this month, this first-of-its-kind piece of legislature may set the policy model for other states — particularly those that want to deliver clean power when it’s needed, not just when it’s produced.
At its core, the CPS was formulated to incentivize better utilization of clean energy technologies to supply power when electricity demand is high — for instance, during peak load timeframes, as defined by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). However, there are times when the sun is not shining and the wind isn’t blowing, yet energy demand is at its highest. To solve this problem, energy storage technologies are used to harvest and deliver clean power efficiently, consistently, and at the right time. And, in more extreme weather-related power outage situations, batteries can be relied upon to provide resilience.
A great example of this at work is in the small town of Sterling, Mass, which has a population of 7,700 residents. In 2016, the Sterling Municipal Light Department installed our energy storage system, which provides crucial backup power to the police station and emergency dispatch center, keeping first responder operations running during extended power outages. It has also saved utility customers over $1 million on their utility bills in its first two years of operation. While municipal plants are not subject to the Clean Peak Standard, Sterling uses its battery in much the same way – discharging power when load is at its peak, and charging when it is more economic.
In a similar fashion, the CPS will also serve to substantially reduce infrastructure costs for customers by delivering clean power when it’s needed, not just when it’s produced. It’s also an important vehicle for helping Massachusetts reach its carbon emissions reduction goals. In fact, it’s expected to reduce emissions by 560,000 metric tons CO2 during the course of the next ten years, according to the Massachusetts DOER.
A model for all states
The role that the CPS will play in bringing additional storage technologies to Massachusetts could be substantial and if similar policies were put in place in other states, more energy storage would come online. That being said, I believe the real and widespread impact of the regulation is the framework that it could provide for the nation. It is a simple, common sense policy that encourages efficiency and flexibility, enabling dramatic increases in clean generation, all the while encouraging adoption of energy storage resources that improve control, reliability, and infrastructure efficiency of our grid.
As the first clean peak standard in the nation takes hold, it may become the go-to policy framework for all states. The benchmarking element is yet to be seen, but the vision is clearly there. As Massachusetts continues to strive towards its ambitious emissions and clean energy goals, we’ll continue to invent and deploy advanced solutions to help our home state meet its goals and cement its place as a clean energy epicenter.