MassCEC Solicits Proposals for Innovative Energy Storage Uses Cases and Business Models

By William H. Holmes, Molly Suda, and Michael L. O’Neill

On March 9, 2017, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) issued a Request for Proposals for the “Advancing Clean Energy Storage” (ACES) Program.  MassCEC is offering up to $10 million in funding for energy storage demonstration projects that “pilot innovative, broadly replicable energy storage use cases/business models with multiple value streams in order to prime Massachusetts for increased commercialization and deployment of storage technologies.”  The organization expects to make 10-15 awards of between $100,000 and $1,250,000 each. Applications are due to MassCEC by 4 pm Eastern Time on June 9, 2017.

Established as part of Massachusetts’ Energy Storage Initiative, this grant program will award up to 50% of a selected project’s total costs.  Projects receiving the grant awards must be commissioned, interconnected, and able to provide operational data within 18 months of contracting with MassCEC.  Projects must meet other eligibility requirements as well, including:

  • Providing a “clear and innovative business model” that shows monetizable and non-monetizable commercial value for energy storage;
  • Offering an explanation of the chosen technology, multiple benefits or value streams to ratepayers or other stakeholders, and the barriers to commercial financing;
  • Locating the project site in Massachusetts and establishing site control or an option to purchase or lease the site;
  • Demonstrating that the project developers have secured at least 50% of the total budget, by cash or in-kind contributions, and providing a thorough financial pro forma; and
  • Monitoring storage system data at 15-minute intervals for a minimum of three years.

MassCEC expects that applicants will form teams to design and implement the project and suggests that parties interested in participating in this program may use the “Expressions of Interest” submissions to form their teams, including clean energy companies, academic institutions, non-profits, or public institutions in Massachusetts. MassCEC encourages teams to include local utilities in their teams and will consider whether an applicant team includes the relevant local utility in its primary selection criteria.

Another primary selection criterion is the proposed projects’ ability to provide “non-monetizable benefits” such as providing flexible and rapid response to replace the use of less inefficient generation, deferring transmission or distribution investment, or reducing peak capacity requirements. Project proposals may incorporate complementary technologies such as solar photovoltaics, demand management, and wind, but only the cost of the storage system will be eligible for grant funding.  While MassCEC anticipates proposed projects will largely include distribution-scale projects, it also encourages projects located in investor-owned utility and municipal light and power service territories.

With 10 or more anticipated awards, combined with the 18-month commissioning deadline, MassCEC can allocate its grant awards among diverse technologies and project teams and begin receiving data from the grant recipients relatively quickly. Importantly, this schedule will permit MassCEC and other observers to capture not only the benefits of energy storage systems, but also to identify and address unanticipated obstacles that larger scale storage projects might encounter in the future.  Requiring projects to identify non-monetizable benefits will also help encourage projects that showcase the multiple values of storage that can be stacked together.

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