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Federal Regulators Want to Try and Advance Energy Storage Resources

energy manage storageThe federal agency that tries to ensure equal access to the nation’s grid is holding a technical conference to see how energy storage can weave itself more efficiently into generation, transmission and distribution. It will be November 9.

“The Commission wants to explore the circumstances under which it may be appropriate for electric storage resources to provide multiple services, whether the RTO/ISO tariffs need to include provisions to accommodate these business models, and how the Commission may ensure just and reasonable compensation for these resources in the RTO/ISO markets,” says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as noted in EnergyChoiceMatters.com. 

“The subject of the conference will be the utilization of electric storage resources as transmission assets compensated through transmission rates, for grid support services that are compensated in other ways, and for multiple services,” FERC said.

What’s to be discussed?

— the potential models for cost recovery for electric storage resources utilized as transmission assets, while also selling energy, capacity or ancillary services at wholesale;

— the potential models to enable an electric storage resource to provide a compensated grid support service (like a generator providing ancillary services under a reliability must-run contract) rather than being compensated for providing transmission service, and

— the practical considerations for electric storage resources providing multiple services at once (i.e., providing both wholesale service(s) and retail and/or end-use service(s)).

“A flexible grid is more efficient and reliable — for all types of generation,” says Matt Roberts, executive director of the Energy Storage Association, in a Twitter exchange with this writer. “It’s is already commercial. It’s value is to make the grid more flexible and resilient — not to be a savior for renewables.”

The common perception is that the energy storage is used to harness electrons and to release them later on when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. That’s a bit further out. The reality is that energy storage is now used to smooth out fluctuations in voltage — to prevent the lights from flickering out.

“The batteries provide grid support that grid operators would otherwise not have,” says Jeff Gates, Duke’s in-house expert on its Notrees Energy Storage Project in West Texas, where it has installed lead batteries next to a wind farm.

“A typical fossil-fired generator would take several minutes to kick in and stabilize the grid. But a battery can respond in less than a second and it is good at being fast and accurate with small deviations in frequency.”

He told this writer in a previous interview that when the battery storage operator detects any changes in “frequency” as a result of “power surges” that it can immediately respond before the grid operator – Electric Reliability Council of Texas – even realizes that a problem has been averted. Duke is paid the same as any traditional generator that would deliver electrons on demand.

The “Notrees” project is 36 megawatts that can charge or discharge at full power for 30 minutes. It uses advanced lead batteries. The project, which has been operating since December 2012, cost $44 million. That is split between the utility and the Energy Department and it is part of the 2009 stimulus plan. This specific undertaking can generate 24 megawatts hours.

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