Energy storage technologies have a crucial role to play in enabling the transition to a low-carbon economy. Despite significant growth of the energy storage market in recent years, the process of connecting this technology to the electricity grid remains complex and unclear in many states across the U.S. A new project, supported by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, aims to simplify the interconnection process for energy storage.
The project team, led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), will identify and develop solutions to regulatory and technical barriers in the interconnection process of standalone energy storage and solar-plus-storage projects. From there, the team will create a nationally applicable toolkit of solutions that apply to diverse states and markets. Extensive training and educational outreach will drive adoption of the resulting solutions in a majority of states. Ultimately, the project aims to reduce the costs and time to process interconnection applications and interconnect energy storage and solar-plus-storage systems safely to the distribution grid.
In addition to IREC, the project team includes the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Energy Storage Association (ESA), the California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA), utilities New Hampshire Electric Cooperative Inc. (NHEC) and PacifiCorp, and law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP (SMW).
“In many states, if you propose a system with solar-plus-storage, the rules about how to interconnect to the grid are not at all clear,” explained Larry Sherwood, IREC President and CEO. “That creates a lot of uncertainty for developers, which increases costs and may scare them away from certain markets. As a result, the full benefits of storage are not realized. Establishing best practices for the interconnection of storage to the grid is critical to sustaining market growth and enabling significant clean energy deployment.”
“Standalone energy storage and solar-plus-storage systems provide significant potential for increased grid reliability and resilience,” said Arshad Mansoor, President of EPRI. “We look forward to applying our technical expertise to help address grid interconnection challenges.”
“If we’re able to more efficiently connect energy storage to the grid, costs will plummet, making solar-plus-storage systems more affordable and accessible to families and businesses,” said Justin Baca, SEIA Vice President of Markets & Research. “This project will help us speed interconnection times and make it easier to connect solar-plus-storage systems of all sizes to the grid. By 2023, nearly one in four distributed generation solar systems could be paired with energy storage.”
“Contractors and utilities all know there is a lot of growing up to do on the interconnection process for energy storage,” said Brad Heavner, CALSSA Policy Director. “We are excited to collaborate with this team to work through these complex issues and develop and share clear recommendations.”
“Developing the tools that stakeholders can use to reduce the time spent and cost incurred connecting storage projects to the grid will accelerate the safe and affordable deployment of energy storage and storage plus solar projects,” noted Marc Chupka, Vice President for Research and Programs at ESA. “We are pleased to contribute to this important project.”
“New Hampshire Electric Cooperative is pleased to participate in the important work of this study. Electric cooperatives serve a significant segment of the American population, under sometimes difficult circumstances,” said David Erickson, NHEC Director of Access and Distributed Resources. “We see this study as helping provide the tools to the cooperative community that make the benefits of storage and solar technologies accessible and affordable to our members.”
About IREC: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy and our planet. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. Learn more at www.irecusa.org.
About SEIA: The Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA) is leading the transformation to a clean energy economy, creating the framework for solar to achieve 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners to fight for policies that create jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of reliable, low-cost solar power. Founded in 1974, SEIA is a national trade association building a comprehensive vision for the Solar+ Decade through research, education and advocacy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.
About ESA: The U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) is the national trade association dedicated to energy storage, working toward a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable electricity grid – as is uniquely enabled by energy storage. With 190 members, ESA represents a diverse group of companies, including independent power producers, electric utilities, energy service companies, financiers, insurers, law firms, installers, manufacturers, component suppliers and integrators involved in deploying energy storage systems around the globe. Learn more at www.energystorage.org.
About CALSSA: The California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) has advanced the common interest of the solar and storage industry for over 40 years, making California the most robust market in the U.S. The association is the state’s largest clean energy business group with over 550 member companies representing an array of businesses that manufacture, design, install, finance and provide other resources to the growing local solar and storage market in California. Learn more at www.calssa.org.
About EPRI: The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization, that conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public, on a non-discriminatory basis. An independent organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, health, safety and the environment. Learn more at www.epri.com.
About PacifiCorp: PacifiCorp is one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, serving 1.9 million customers in the West. PacifiCorp operates as Pacific Power in Oregon, Washington and California, and as Rocky Mountain Power in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. The company works to meet growing energy demand while protecting and enhancing the environment. For more information, visit www.pacificorp.com.
About NHEC: New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC) is a member-owned electric distribution cooperative serving 85,000 homes and businesses in 115 New Hampshire communities. For more information, visit www.nhec.com.
About SMW: Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP is a law firm specializing in renewable energy, government, land use, and environmental law. The firm has extensive experience with interconnection policy and energy storage issues and serves as IREC’s legal counsel in regulatory proceedings across the United States. Known for its commitment to promoting environmental and community values, SMW is at the forefront of clean energy issues facing the United States today. Learn more at www.smwlaw.com.
About the Solar Energy Technologies Office: The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.