On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, the CPUC held an Electric Energy Storage Workshop as part of its R10-12-007 proceeding for AB 2514, which defines the process by which the CPUC will consider electric energy storage standards for California’s investor owned utilities. A large number of interested stakeholders attended including Stoel Rives’ Seth Hilton and myself. There were presentations from the UC Berkeley/CEC team, CAISO, SCE and CAISO, as well as informal presentations from participants. (Click on this link for copies of these presentations and the proposal or go to: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/electric/storage.htm.) The discussion that followed each presentation was lively and well-informed.

The theme of the workshop was to identify and address the barriers to the inclusion of Electric Energy Storage (EES) and to brainstorm action that the CPUC could take to ameliorate those barriers, both internally and by its participation in other forums. A ruling seeking additional comments from the workshop participants will be issued in the next week or so – we will keep you posted.

The overarching takeaways from the workshop were:

  • EES encompasses many different technologies and many potential applications for generation, transmission, distribution and customer-side.
  • There needs to be a valuation methodology endorsed by all stakeholders that encapsulates all the benefits that EES can provide.
  • A meaningful cost/ benefit analysis of any EES technology cannot be conducted independent of its application. CPUC could address some of these challenges itself, particularly in the following areas:
    • Contract evaluation
    • Rate design
    • Avoidance of over-generation and subsequent curtailment
    • Load, resource adequacy and capacity
  • CPUC could also participate in other forums:
    • CAISO’s transmission analysis and planning process
    • FERC through a Notice of Intent

A pall was cast over the proceedings by the news that Michael Colvin (whose enthusiasm for EES has been a key component in maintaining the momentum of the R10-12-007 proceeding) is leaving his current post to take up a staff position with Commissioner Mark Ferron and California does not currently have the budgetary wherewithal to backfill Mike’s position.