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Massachusetts DER invests in energy storage R&D

Demo projects seek what works best for ratepayers

Rockville, MD (August 24, 2015) – Massachusetts is conducting a study as part of its Energy Storage Initiative and will next year start a demonstration project program to spur energy storage development in the commonwealth, Massachusetts Dept of Energy Resources (DER) Commissioner Judith Judson told Smart Grid Today – the leading independent, daily, professional news journal of the smart grid industry – recently in an exclusive interview. Smart Grid Today publisher Modern Markets Intelligence Inc. is sharing the story here, free of charge.

The $10 million initiative started in May to find out what amount of energy storage would be effective for the state's ratepayers, Judson said.

Most of the funding in the initiative is allocated for demonstration projects exploring viable business models for storage, she added. The DER is not settled on any particular storage technology for the projects.

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The initiative is casting a wide net in terms of potential partners, hoping to include utilities, municipalities and vendors working on customer-side and utility-side storage systems, Judson said.

These projects, along with a planned study with the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, will look for policies and regulatory structures that can guide the development of storage in Massachusetts, she added.

Massachusetts has in place rules for DG interconnection, and ISO-NE recently created market rules for storage. But the state is still in the early stages of developing storage policies, Judson said, noting her office is "looking at lessons learned from other states and storage firms."

The Dept of Public Utilities (DPU) ordered all utilities to file grid modernization plans by Aug 5, Massachusetts DER Renewable Energy Development Director Dwayne Breger told us, and the plans could potentially include proposals for energy storage R&D and rates that set up pricing signals reflective of storage's value. The utilities collectively asked for an extension on Aug 3 to Aug 19, Breger said.

As part of the study, DER is meeting one-on-one with ISO-NE, the DPU and other stakeholders working on market structures in the state, he added.

The state wants to finish the study early next year, and design the demonstration program this fall and make awards early next year, Breger said.

Massachusetts has several storage projects online or in the works, he added. His office runs the Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative that so far gave financial support to project at 18 towns, 11 of them with energy storage.

Several of the state's utilities are already doing their own storage projects. Holyoke Gas & Electric is working with battery-integration firm Sparkplug Power to deploy residential storage units throughout the city for use by the utility for peak shifting, Breger said. The project is not yet running.

National Grid is working with battery maker Vionx on a utility-scale demonstration project looking at demand management and renewable integration in Everett and Worcester, Mass. The Everett location a combined solar and storage facility, he added.

Battery firm Ambri is working on a project with US military base Joint Base Cape Cod that should be online by the end of the year, Breger said.

This story was originally published in Smart Grid Today (http://ow.ly/RiVlA) August 7, 2015 and has been slightly edited for this format. To read more articles like this one, sign up for a Free Trial to Smart Grid Today.

ABOUT SMART GRID TODAY

Smart Grid Today, the publication of record for the smart grid industry since 2009, delivers daily, unbiased, comprehensive and original reporting on emerging trends, applications and policies driving the modern utility industry. Our signature format features highly concise and easy-to-understand news copy based on trusted reporting, exclusive interviews, informed analysis and strategic insights that our subscribers rely on to succeed every business day. Modern Markets Intelligence Inc publishes Smart Grid Today.

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