Testimony Submitted to Senate Committee on Commerce, Labor And Energy - Senate Bill 204

Posted: March 15, 2017 - 15:24 / Nevada / ESA Filings
Filed by Jason Burwen
Policy & Advocacy Director, Energy Storage Association
Position: Support
Chair Atkinson, Vice-Chair Spearman, and Members of the Committee, thank you for holding this hearing today. I am the Policy & Advocacy Director at the Energy Storage Association. Our nation-wide membership comprises nearly 200 electric utilities, developers, manufacturers, and other companies directly involved in advanced energy storage. Several of our members conduct energy storage or related business activities in Nevada.
The Energy Storage Association supports Senate Bill 204 to accelerate the use of energy storage to open the path to a more reliable, more affordable, and cleaner electric system for Nevada households and businesses.
In simplest terms, energy storage enables electricity that is generated to be used at a later time, “warehousing” it for when it is most needed—batteries being the most common technology deployed today. By adding this flexibility to the grid, energy storage can reduce peak electricity demand, offset costly infrastructure investments, supply back-up power, integrate variable wind and solar power, and improve the resiliency of the grid.
However, there are still barriers to the deployment of energy storage on Nevada’s electric grid. Energy storage is unlike any other resource and does not fit existing electric system categories—sometimes it acts like supply, sometimes it acts like demand, sometimes it acts like infrastructure, and it can switch between these roles at will. It can be connected directly to the grid, or it can be sited at a customer premise. That multi-service and multi-location flexibility is what make storage so valuable. But it’s very different than the technologies utilities and customers are used to. As such, the greatest barrier to storage is a lack of understanding of how to assess its benefits and plan for it on the electric grid, given that it is a very different technology than what has been on the grid in the past.
Electric grid planning, valuation, interconnection, and procurement processes should be updated to fully consider energy storage as an alternative to traditional grid solutions. One of the best ways to begin overcoming this barrier is to learn-by-doing. Deploying cost-effective energy storage systems on the grid will jump-start learning for utilities, regulators, developers, and electric customers to understand how best to integrate and utilize this new versatile resource.
It is important for Nevada to incorporate energy storage soon. Nevada regulators are making decisions about electric grid investments today that will last for the next several decades—be that investments in wires and substations, power plants, or other grid modernization and resiliency efforts. Presently, those decisions largely ignore energy storage as an option in procurement or planning, despite its value. At the same time, the technology landscape is changing fast. Advanced energy storage technologies—primarily lithium-ion batteries—are declining rapidly in cost: on average 12 to 15 percent every year over the last 6 years, and expected to continue at this rate through 2020.
SB 204 would ensure prudency in Nevada’s longer-term electric sector investments by directing the Public Utilities Commission to examine the costs and benefits of storage and determine whether a storage procurement target is merited. This will start a deliberative process by which the PUC can determine what is appropriate for Nevada with input from utilities, customers, and other stakeholders. If a storage procurement target is warranted, then regulators, utilities, and other electric sector stakeholders will be able to learn from those deployments to update electric grid planning, valuation, interconnection, and procurement processes accordingly. This in turn will ensure storage is on the menu of options that Nevada regulators and utilities may use to save ratepayers money, increase grid resiliency, and integrate more renewable and distributed resources.
At the same time, SB 204 could lead to local energy industry job growth by compelling energy storage companies to prioritize their rapidly growing deployment efforts in Nevada. SB 204 could ensure continuing clean energy jobs for Nevada residents, since the sales and installation of many energy storage devices must occur locally--the same reason why over 8,000 Nevada residents are employed in the solar industry today, according to the Solar Foundation’s 2016 Jobs Census.
For that reason, the Energy Storage Association urges consideration of SB 204. I thank you for your consideration and look forward to answering your questions at j.burwen@energystorage.org or 202-580-6285.