New ESA White Paper Available on Interconnection Rules for Energy Storage Systems

Over the past few years, 9 states have initiated a process to review their distribution interconnection standards to better incorporate distributed energy resources, including energy storage. While California and Hawaii are leading the way with newly developed interconnection standards, Nevada, New York, Arizona, Minnesota, Maryland, North Carolina, and Massachusetts have either put forwards draft language or initiated working groups to review existing rules and regulations.

ESA applauds these states for undertaking this important initiative. Updating interconnection standards to incorporate energy storage is a critical step to facilitating the growth of a robust energy storage market. Without the ability to interconnect systems in a timely and affordable manner, no policy stimulus – be it a procurement target or incentive program – will result in robust deployment.

ESA has produced Updating Distribution Interconnection Procedures to Incorporate Energy Storage to present the best practices and lessons learned developed throughout these proceedings. The white paper is intended to serve as a guide to policymakers looking to update distribution interconnection rules to better incorporate energy storage technology. Policymakers will find a discussion of the type of configurations regulators should consider for interconnection standards, the challenges facing energy storage systems in existing regulations, and proposed solutions to some of the most pressing gaps in existing standards. Our goal is to ensure an accurate, timely and fair interconnection process for customers interested in adopting energy storage technology, while at the same time maintaining a safe and reliable grid.

Below are the key takeaways for readers:

  • Energy storage is capable of both injecting and withdrawing electricity from the system, is highly controllable, and capable of fast response to system needs and near instantaneous ramp to full capacity in either charge or discharge mode.
  • The ability to inadvertently export for a short period of time is critical for customer’s ability to load follow large percentage of their energy needs, and rules governing inadvertent exports should be included in interconnection standards.
  • Interconnection standards should reflect the ability of customer to control and modify the use of their energy storage system through operational controls to prevent onerous and unnecessary study timelines and potentially steep upgrade costs for unlikely system behavior.
  • Considering the unique ability of customers to control the profile of their energy storage systems, studying the “worst case” scenario – (the aggregate nameplate capacity in particular –) is inappropriate.
  • A net system capacity approach is more appropriate than the aggregated nameplate capacity, with limited exceptions, for an interconnection study of energy storage.

ESA’s recommendations are the outcome of ongoing discussions and collaboration with stakeholders in working groups and regulatory proceedings across the country, and we look forward to continuing those engagements. As states update their interconnection standards and an increasing number of behind-the-meter systems are interconnected across the United States, the storage industry, electric utilities and regulators are undoubtedly expected to improve their understanding of how to refine the distribution interconnection process. As such, this white paper represents a first iteration of what is surely to be a document that evolves as learning continues.

The white paper can be found here