Oregon saddles up to implement trailblazing energy storage mandate
In 2016, Oregon’s utilities and energy sector stakeholders will have the chance to set the bar on the value and benefits of energy storage.
In the new year, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) will convene a proceeding on the state’s new energy storage law, which could produce a template for the rest of the nation. While Oregon’s law is actually the second in the nation — California enacted a storage mandate in 2013 — sector stakeholders say the law is special in the guidance it provides to regulators on how to value energy storage technologies.
Utility sector players have largely welcomed the mandate, in no small part because they already have some experience with energy storage. Portland General Electric (PGE) in particular has already proved two big benefits energy storage can offer, officials told Utility Dive
“Our Salem Smart Power Center demonstrated its value to the grid for reliability and for capturing renewables and using the stored electricity when it is needed,” said Portland General Electric Communications Specialist Stan Sittser.
“It has proven so practical that we have taken what was originally a test and turned it into a routine part of our grid,” Sittser added.
Oregon House Bill 2193 (H.B. 2193) requires PGE and PacifiCorp, Oregon’s dominant electricity providers, to have a minimum of 5 MWh of energy storage in service by January 1, 2020.
Passed by both the state Senate and House and signed by Gov. Kate Brown (D) in June, the bill also requires OPUC to initiate open rulemaking procedures and issue and order by January 2017.
The law limits the amount of storage a utility can procure or develop at 1% of the company’s peak load, although they can obtain waivers from the OPUC for larger systems if more than one utility shares the program and its cost. In 2014, PGE reported a peak load of 3,866 MW in the state, and PacifiCorp’s was about 2,377 MW, according to a blog post on the law from K&L Gates attorneys.
Any technology that captures energy, stores and delivers it is considered eligible. That includes batteries, flywheels, compressed air energy storage, thermal storage, and pumped hydro-power, according to a state Senate staff filing. The law is “technology-agnostic, but industry realizes the declining price in battery storage,” it adds.