The California Public Utilities Commission, CPUC, last September released a long-awaited proposal for mandating an 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage to support the state’s power grid by the end of 2020.  The  proposed decision [DOC] from CPUC Commissioner Carla J. Peterman breaks new ground in seeking to establish a regulatory regime in which utilities, third-party storage providers, and even customer-owned storage assets can play an integrated role. Those include rules that would limit utilities from owning more than 50 percent of the total amount of energy storage to be procured across the three “grid domains” of transmission, distribution, and customer-located storage.  The state’s three investor-owned utilities — Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric –argued that they should be able to control a larger share of the storage they would be required to connect to their grids. The proposal calls for utilities to “consider all forms of resource ownership (utility-owned, third-party owned, customer-owned, joint ownership), including entering into contracts with customer-sited storage resources,” and further states that the utilities “may own storage assets in all three storage grid domains.”

As hydro power above 50 MW is excluded  hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as well as compressed-air energy storage (CAES), and battery-based energy storage, the new proposal keeps with the spirit of the 2010 state law, Assembly Bill 2514, which called for the statewide energy storage mandate to enable a “market transformation” for these new technologies.

“This is pretty significant, because they’re saying that utilities can even own assets behind the meter,” according to Janice Lin, executive director of the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA).

(Photo courtesy of ITM Power)