While the likes of California, Massachusetts and New York make headlines as the leading US states for energy storage policy, initiatives from the ground up in New Hampshire, Georgia and Michigan have been announced already this year.
Biggest among the three is the approval last week by New Hampshire’s regulator, the Public Utilities’ Commission (PUC), of a programme by Liberty Utilities to install hundreds of Tesla Powerwall 2 units at customers’ homes.
Liberty Utilities, which serves just under 300,000 electricity customers in New Hampshire and California, proposed back in late 2017 that it would own around 5MW of battery storage (or about 1,000 batteries) installed behind-the-meter (BTM) at residential properties. As with other programmes of this type, aggregating together the capabilities of BTM storage should enable the utility to control the peak load on its networks.
“The batteries will provide backup power for the customer, reduce peak demand, and potentially provide voltage and other support services as needed. The customer will have access to the battery capacity nearly all the time, except when a peak demand is predicted for the following day,” the utility said.
The utility will then be able to control and dispatch the capacity stored in the batteries to mitigate its peak demand issues. Liberty Utilities pointed out that at present New Hampshire lacks significant energy storage facilities and said the pilot “could signal the start of battery storage aggregation throughout New Hampshire”.
The first pilot phase as approved by the PUC will see 500 Tesla Powerwall 2s deployed, while also leaving open a “bring your own device” clause that could enable third-party providers and aggregators to get involved. PUC said the proposed programme was being broken up into the smaller phases as the original proposal, expected to cost around US$8 million, would have “subjected ratepayers to too much risk” and was considered “too big, too complex, and too expensive”.
Liberty Utilities’ senior analyst Heather Tebbetts based some of the thinking behind the pilot on the scheme conducted by Green Mountain Power in Vermont, where again, Tesla Powerwall devices were put on customer sites to benefit the utility and its network as well as individual homeowners. Customers paid either an upfront fee of a couple of thousand dollars or a monthly fee of around US$40. This contribution would be paid for, for the 10-year expected lifetime of the battery systems.
The systems will be aggregated using the Tesla GridLogic software platform “or an equivalent software platform”, while the utility will also put metering systems in place to log time-of-use of electricity at participating customers’ homes.
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