August 29, 2016

Top 5 takeaways from Senator Heinrich’s Energy Summit

By Ward Camp, Chief Regulatory Officer, Edison Energy

Chris Kuhl, Edison Energy’s Director of Business Development for Energy Storage Solutions and I recently attended New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich’s energy summit on storage in Albuquerque.

Over 200 people attended including state regulators, academics, scientists, service and technology providers, labor and utilities (both RECs and IOUs. The speakers were 1st class and included such folks as Jon Wellinghoff, Steve Berberich and Mateo Jaramillo and Praveen Kathpal. I asked Chris what he thought and his top takeaways were as follows:

  • Growth of the energy storage market was pretty universally seen as the next “wave” as states create mandates / programs
  • CT, MA, OR, AZ (and maybe soon NM) are joining with bellwether “leading edge” states CA, NY and NJ with storage mandates and programs
  • Role of RTOs/ISOs is really key in designing markets that assign value to energy storage for grid services and capacity
  • In non-RTO states, or even in some of them, it is the role of the state public utility commission to push for inclusion of energy storage in IRP/DRP planning from utilities
  • Inclusion in IRP/DRP process can help energy storage demonstrate value in the rate-base versus ‘traditional’ resource planning and assets

This is promising for the growth of energy storage both behind and in front of the meter benefiting not only utility-scale applications, but for commercial and industrial sites where the ES projects may support onsite (renewable) generation and also as microgrid installations at universities and government facilities.

I am from New Mexico and have seen Senator Heinrich in action before and was able to work with his office quite a bit during the early days of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Chris had not. I was not surprised that when he acted as moderator he was so knowledgeable. Chris was more than pleasantly surprised. Chris said “he is probably the most insightful politician in the nation into the value, potential and nuances of energy storage applications. I’m really glad we have someone like him with his background (mechanical engineering degree and his father worked as a lineman for utilities) leading this effort.”

It was very clear to me that the senator in his proposed legislation and efforts will continue to help energy storage (in all its forms) have a prominent role in our nation’s energy future.