Energy Storage RFPs May Spread to Oregon

The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) recently announced that it is considering issuing a solicitation for demonstration electrical energy storage projects in late 2014.  To prepare for possible funding opportunities, ODOE seeks public comments about the “scope, number and priority” of proposals that use “electrical storage technology, specifically batteries” to provide resiliency and regulation.  ODOE noted that potential proposals may include, among others, projects that support transmission system devices such as static var compensators, projects that would be co-located with renewable energy generation where there are transmission constraints, projects that would provide stabilization to industrial facilities during outages, and projects that would co-locate renewable energy generation with distributed energy storage. 

ODOE also seeks comment on the selection criteria that it has preliminarily identified, which include the sponsor’s ability to secure adequate funding for project implementation, the project’s commercial viability, the sponsor’s willingness to allow multiple public entities to collect data from the project for a year after commissioning, “integrity benefits” to the distribution or transmission system, and “resiliency benefits” to emergency service providers or critical services.

ODOE also seeks comments on whether it should prioritize geographic areas in Oregon that would benefit from grid improvements, whether it should prefer certain parties (such as small utilities) as grant recipients, whether it should give preference to certain technologies, what kind of transparency and data requirements should be used, and how a pilot energy storage project could be used to support standards development.

ODOE’s “Comment Opportunity” can be found hereComments are due on August 29.

The agency’s request for comments is an outgrowth of an energy storage workshop co-hosted by ODOE and the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) in Portland in March 2014.  I attended the workshop, and found it very informative.  The morning session of the workshop featured panels that discussed a range of energy storage technologies and their potential applications. During the afternoon session, participants broke into groups for roundtable discussions on various topics.  ODOE and OPUC did a good job of reducing the proceedings to writing—you can find summaries of the Roundtable sessions and the presentations here.  These materials provide useful background on how ODOE and OPUC are thinking about the development of energy storage in Oregon.

ODOE’s ability to proceed with the solicitation appears to be conditioned on what the agency describes as a “potential partnership” with U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories and the Clean Energy States Alliance.  Whether this particular solicitation materializes or not, Oregon is now among a number of states such as California, Hawaii  and New York that are recognizing the important role that energy storage will play in electric power supply, delivery, and security in the years ahead.

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