Massachusetts Energy Storage Target Comes with Less Clout but More Money
Massachusetts’ new energy storage target isn’t mandatory as some industry players had hoped — but comes with more money.
The state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) on Friday announced the much-awaited specifics of the program. The state called for utilities to secure 200 MWh of energy storage by 2020. But the target is “aspirational” — not binding as several independent companies had urged.
At the same time, the state doubled funding for energy storage projects to $20 million.
The fact that the target is voluntary marks a win for the Edison Electric Institute and state’s investor-owned utilities. The utilities had argued that because of changing battery economics it was better to move slowly. They said that battery prices are falling, so adding capacity early when prices are still higher could mean locking ratepayers into greater costs.
The target number also aligns with the utilities’ recommendation of a 200-500 MWh goal, which they said will put the state on a path to reach 600 MW of energy storage capacity by 2025. That is the goal described in the DOER’s 2016 report, “State of Charge,” which outlines policies to generate $800 million in benefits from storage in Massachusetts.
Several independent companies and clean energy organizations pushed for a higher target and wanted it to be binding, as is the state’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS), which sets targets for green energy. The state imposes a penalty if utilities fail to meet the RPS targets. Proceeds from the money collected go toward programs to spur more renewable energy.
Those favoring an energy storage mandate, over a voluntary target, included NEC Energy Solutions, Stem, Advanced Microgrid Solutions, Green Charge Networks, the Conservation Law Foundation and the Clean Energy Group.
Ted Ko, Stem’s director of policy, welcomed the extra funding, but said “a significant, binding mandate would have sent the market signal needed to attract meaningful investment in the state.”