Massachusetts Utility Seeks Rate Recovery for Energy Storage Research, Demonstrations

NSTAR Electric Co. and Western Massachusetts Electric Co., d/b/a in Massachusetts as Eversource Energy, last week asked the state’s Department of Public Utilities to approve a rate recovery proposal for $100 million in energy storage research and demonstrations.

Eversource said in its filing that it expects that the research and demonstration projects will help the utility integrate distributed energy resources to the power grid.

The proposal is part of Eversource’s $400 million grid-modernization plan, which includes funding for electric vehicle infrastructure and vehicle conversions, as well as customer tools for distributed energy resource integration, such as capacity maps.

“Over the next 10 years, the grid will be shaped by rapidly developing technological advances and a continued transition to a clean energy future,” Eversource said in the filing. “In order to prepare for this complex future, it will be critical to focus on multiple technologies and projects that will result in a smarter and more integrated electric distribution system.”

According to the filing, Eversource has identified four energy storage projects in the state that could allow for further evaluation and investment. Those projects are:

  • Replace aging emergency diesel generators serving Martha’s Vineyard with energy storage systems that can respond to demand or reliability needs as an on-island resource.
  • Installation of energy storage at the utility’s Wellfleet substation as backup for downed 115-kV transmission lines, thereby avoiding building a new transmission line in what is described as an “environmentally sensitive area.”
  • Installation of a 3-5 MW/1-2MWh energy storage system in New Bedford to smooth out intermittency of the existing 20 MW of local solar PV and planned 25 MW of additional PV generation.
  • Installation of energy storage in Pittsfield in combination with planned large-scale solar PV generation in order to respond to momentary fluctuations in voltage to improve power quality in the region.

Eversource also noted in the filing that, given notable reductions in costs of energy storage, the utility may be able to accommodate additional energy storage projects under the proposed funding.

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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