Bottle sunlight: California proposes historic Energy Storage targets


Carla Peterman of the California Public Utilities Commission has proposed a 1,325 megawatt energy storage procurement target for the state’s three largest utilities. The goal of the proposed decision is to optimize the grid, integrate renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Jeff St. John at Greentech Media has a fantastically comprehensive piece here.

The move is being heralded as a watershed moment that will jump start the storage industry. There’s not one technology when it comes to storage: compressed air, lithium ion batteries, flywheels and small pump storage (under 50 megawatts) all count toward the targets.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for,” said Janice Lin, Managing Partner of Strategen Consulting  and chair of next week’s Energy Storage North America conference in San Jose, where Peterman will give a keynote talk Sept. 11. “Commissioner Peterman’s historic proposed decision provides a critically-needed market signal to realize the many benefits energy storage can bring to California’s ratepayers. We’re certain that other states will follow California’s example.”

Utilities aren’t usually that fond of procurement targets. But it’s worked: just look at the states RPS law, which requires that utilities get 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

The proposal grew out of objectives spelled out in AB 2514, a bill championed by State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, that said “Energy Storage has the potential to transform how the California electric system is conceived, designed, and operated.”

“There’s plenty of sun out there and it’s going to take storage,” said Gov. Jerry Brown during a speech at Intersolar this summer.  “We have a law in California encouraging storage. We need to bottle sunlight.”

The CPUC is taking public comments; the proposal could be voted on as early as Oct. 3.

Carla Peterman of the California Public Utilities Commission

Dana Hull Dana Hull (252 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.