State utilities commission amps up energy storage technology
The decision will require power companies to expand their capacity to store energy, improving storage and delivery of renewable energy resources, reducing the need for gas-fired power plants, cutting climate change pollution, and making California’s electrical grid more reliable. In the decision, the state’s investor-owned utilities must begin buying a combined 200 megawatts of energy storage technology by 2014 and reaching 1.3 gigawatts (1,325 megawatts) by the end of 2020.
Said Will Rostov, Earthjustice attorney who has represented Sierra Club California in the proceedings for more than two and a half years:
“California is leading the way to a clean energy future with this critical step, which will essentially give the most populous state in the nation the hard-wiring and horsepower to more reliably deliver cleaner, safer, and more affordable, and more innovative energy to all Californians. Improving our energy storage systems is a necessary step in building a modern, sustainable power grid. Today’s forward-thinking and shrewd move by the California Public Utilities Commission will lay the groundwork for California to transform its energy supply and open the marketplace to innovations in clean, renewable energy sources. Clean, renewable energy sources will shape our future, whether the dirty antiquated fossil fuels industry likes it or not, so it’s excellent to see California getting there first. It took years of work by environmental advocates and state regulators to reach this point.”
Said Evan Gillespie, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign, Western Region Deputy Director:
“This decision comes at the perfect moment as the state plans for the replacement of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Fossil fuels like natural gas are a dead end for the people of California, the power companies, and for the entire planet. Today’s decision will spark new ideas and storage methods that can move us out of a destructive energy system and into a safe, healthy, and efficient system of renewable energy. The proposed energy storage targets are a great beginning, and we look forward to working with the CPUC to ensure utilities will not simply meet but exceed these targets.”
Said Strela Cervas, Coordinator at the California Environmental Justice Alliance:
“The California Environmental Justice Alliance participated in this proceeding on behalf of low income communities and communities of color overburdened by pollution, in particular from power plants. California does not need any new gas-fired power plants. This decision announces the feasibility of other alternatives; will undoubtedly accelerate the State’s progress towards a just, sustainable energy future; and facilitates other statewide climate change policies that protect low-income communities and communities of color.”
Energy storage systems can use mechanical, chemical, or thermal processes to store energy; these processes range from battery technologies to energy storage within compressed air or molten salt. The PUC proposed ruling anticipates energy storage market transformation reducing the cost and increasing the availability of energy storage systems.
The PUC decision is the culmination of California Assembly Bill 2514 (AB 2514) passed in 2010, the first state law that solely focuses on incorporating energy storage into the electrical grid.