Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Overheard at the 3rd Annual Energy Storage Policy Forum

WASHINGTON — Nearly 200 energy policy and market experts gathered at the National Press Club on Wednesday for the Energy Storage Association’s 3rd annual Energy Storage Policy Forum. Here’s some of what we heard.

Storage in the States

Jones | © RTO Insider

Several state regulators spoke at the conference, after having just gone through what Washington Utilities and Transportation Commissioner Phil Jones called “NARUC hell,” referring to the winter meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

The regulators spoke about how they view their role in setting policies on energy storage and how they communicate with elected officials about the technical aspects of energy markets and technology.

The Washington UTC has been working on a policy statement on modeling energy storage through the integrated resource planning process. Jones said the statement, which he noted is short of a rulemaking, will be released in about two weeks.

The commission has “been a little bit reluctant to do too much in storage, and certainly not a mandate, without legislative blessing, if you will.” But while the commission defers to the State Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee to make energy policy, Jones said that he emphasizes to them the state’s need to stay ahead of the curve — specifically California’s duck curve. “Unless Washington state acts, California’s duck curve … is going to overrun us,” he said, referring to the state’s drop in net load during the day because of rooftop solar and its sudden increase after the sun sets.

Little | © RTO Insider

The increase in intermittent resources in other states in the Western Interconnection puts pressure on Washington’s grid. “Storage is certainly a solution to this,” Jones said.

The Arizona Corporation Commission — one of about 10 state regulatory bodies elected rather than appointed — is less deferential, said Commissioner Doug Little. “We are the energy policymaking body in Arizona,” he said. “We certainly solicit feedback from the governor’s office and the legislature, but they … rely on us to take a policy leadership role.”

Like Jones, Little said his commission also spends a lot of time educating Arizona legislators about the effects of California’s energy dynamics on the state. The economic benefits CAISO’s Energy Imbalance Market provides ratepayers “gets their attention pretty quickly,” he said.

Lauwers | © RTO Insider

Will Lauwers, emerging technology director for the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, said that the department must “take the ratepayer benefit as our primary cause and consideration” in its development of policy. He said the department also understands that, as part of ISO-NE, the state’s policies will affect other states in the RTO.

Lauwers said Gov. Charlie Baker has been extremely supportive of storage, highlighting the administration’s $10 million Energy Storage Initiative and recent clean energy legislation that authorized the department to set a storage resource procurement goal.

That legislation made Massachusetts the third state in the country to allow its regulators to set such a goal. The first was California, where regulators in 2013 set a target of 1.325 GW by 2020. (Oregon was the second.)

Peterman | © RTO Insider

California Public Utilities Commissioner Carla Peterman said the commission originally came up with a number less than 1 GW, but she said a gigawatt “just sounded better.”

She recalled she said, “‘Let’s put out a number and see if it sticks.’ And eventually it did. So sometimes, you know, that’s how the sausage is made,” prompting laughter from the audience. “You use the best analytics that you can, but ultimately you put something out and then if no one laughs … then you know you might as well move forward.”

Peterman was asked how fast other states should move on storage.

“Very quickly,” she replied. “I can’t emphasize enough that there are so many different things you can do. Just requiring the utilities to do some evaluation is a big step.”

Bay Makes an Appearance

Many at the conference expressed their enthusiasm for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that FERC issued in November requiring RTOs to allow storage resources above 100 kW to participate in their energy, capacity and ancillary services markets. (See FERC Rule Would Boost Energy Storage, DER.)

Bay (left) and Jason Burwen, ESA policy and advocacy director | © RTO Insider

On hand to fete the staffers in attendance who worked on the NOPR was former Chairman Norman Bay, who asked them to stand and be recognized before a discussion with Jason Burwen, policy and advocacy director of the ESA.

“Storage clearly has unique characteristics,” Bay said. “It’s not like traditional resources in the markets. Traditional resources fell into one category or another. … Storage can play in” generation, load, transmission and distribution. “So it seems to me that the market rules have got to recognize those unique characteristics.”

RTOs: We Support Storage

Representatives from four grid operators in the Eastern Interconnection said their markets offer ways for energy storage resources to participate, even as FERC in its NOPR said that some existing rules are unfair to storage.

Left to right: Levitt; Bladen; Christopher Parent, ISO-NE director of market development and DeSocio | © RTO Insider

“The notion that energy storage should be able to participate in all markets is one that PJM supports,” said Andrew Levitt, PJM senior market strategist. “That is, from my perspective, a basic mission of PJM: opening all markets to resources that are technically capable of serving those markets.”

“In MISO’s case, we had some anachronistic things in our Tariff that we’re going to be getting rid of and, in fact, had been planning to for some time,” said Jeff Bladen, MISO executive director of market services. But even before FERC’s recent order in response to a complaint by Indianapolis Power and Light, “we had many paths for storage to participate in the markets.”

FERC, however, concluded that MISO prevents storage from fully participating, ordering it to revise its Tariff. In the event that MISO’s compliance filing conflicts with a final ruling on storage participation, the RTO would have to make further revisions, the commission said. (See MISO Ordered to Change Storage Rules Following IPL Complaint.)

Burwen pushed back, pointing out FERC’s NOPR was premised on the fact that there are barriers to participation for storage. He asked what RTOs need to change in order to recognize storage resources’ unique attributes.

“What we really need from you folks is help,” said Michael DeSocio, NYISO senior manager of market design. “We need your help to figure out what are these parameters that are missing, that are necessary.”

– Michael Brooks

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