Category: Transmission

1
California Energy Storage Update – What’s In the Latest Procurement Plans?
2
Event: Blockchain in Energy Forum 2018
3
FERC Schedules Technical Conference to Explore Generator Interconnection Issues
4
K&L Gates and CleanTech Alliance to host Washington Department of Commerce’s Clean Energy Fund 2 Virtual Bidder’s Conference on January 12, 2016
5
FAST Act Expedites Permitting and Environmental Review for Large Infrastructure Projects
6
FERC Finds ISO New England’s Formula Rates and Accompanying Tariff Provisions to be Unjust and Unreasonable
7
The Australian Energy Market Commission releases a draft report recommending against the implementation of optional firm access
8
FERC Announces Proposed Rule to Reduce Regulatory Burden for Generators that Own Generation Tie-Lines
9
California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO) Proposes Transmission Tariff Changes

California Energy Storage Update – What’s In the Latest Procurement Plans?

By Buck B. Endemann and  Kristen A. Berry

Just as Prometheus hid fire in a fennel stalk to gift it to the unaware ancients, the pioneers of energy storage technology seek to harness and store energy in increasingly novel ways. Transforming captured energy into storable and consumable power stands at the forefront of this century’s revolution in green energy technology. In 2017, the United States deployed 431 MWh of energy storage capability, largely spurred by state-specific energy storage mandates.[1] California’s state legislature has continued to lead the nation and spread Prometheus’s “secret spring of fire.”

While the concept of storing energy is centuries-old, new battery technologies promise to mitigate California’s infamous duck curve and provide the low carbon, flexible ramping resources necessary to accommodate the state’s increasing penetration of solar power. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates the United States’ total current storage capacity at 23 gigawatts (GW), which approximates the capacity of 28 coal plants.[2] Ninety-six percent of this capacity, however, derives from pumped hydroelectric storage, most of which was built in the 1960s and 1970s and is increasingly vulnerable to drought and other environmental risks. More recently, energy storage developers have focused their efforts on battery technologies, with lithium-ion batteries in particular making great strides in terms of duration and cost-effectiveness. Market watchers have projected that by 2020 the price of battery storage could decline to $200 kWh, compared to today’s market price of approximately $340/kWh.[3]

As detailed in the K&L Gates Energy Storage Handbook (Version 2.0), California’s two landmark energy storage bills require California’s Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) to procure and install nearly 2 GW of storage by 2024.[4]  Under AB 2514, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) required California’s IOUs to procure by 2020 1,325 MW of storage capacity split among the transmission, distribution, and customer domains.  In AB 2868, the legislature set an additional procurement target of 500 MW for distributed-connected energy storage systems, with individual 166 MW goals established for Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SD&E). Under both laws, California’s IOUs must submit periodic procurement plans to show progress toward each law’s targets.  In February and March 2018, SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E submitted their 2018 energy storage procurement plans, which lay out each IOU’s strategy to meet its energy storage goals in its respective service territory.

SCE proposes to procure a total of 60 MW of energy storage by 2018 in two separate procurements of 20 MW and 40 MW.  The 20 MW of procurement would respond to an additional legislative directive, SB 801, under which SCE is required to deploy energy storage in response to the natural gas shortages caused by the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility’s well failure.  For the remaining 40 MW, SCE plans to launch programs and investments to solicit utility-owned storage, as mandated under AB 2868. SCE’s procurement plan also seeks CPUC approval to allocate $9.8 million to install energy storage at low-income, multi-family dwellings.

PG&E’s procurement plan focuses on the 166 MW of energy storage under AB 2514 that it is required to procure in the 2018-2019 procurement period.  To meet that target, PG&E proposes an energy storage request-for-offers framework. To achieve its AB 2868 target, PG&E outlined its four categories of distribution-connected storage investments: (1) researching the role of distributed energy storage in wildfire safety, particularly within the context of the North Bay Wildfire rebuilding efforts, (2) launching a behind-the-meter storage program for up to 5 MW of thermal storage, (3) identifying and seeking immediate CPUC approval (via a Tier 3 advice letter) for storage investments up to 166 MW, and (4) requesting authorization for additional investments beyond the categories identified in the 2018 application.

SDG&E’s filing proposes seven utility-owned micro-grid projects, all of which would exist at the distribution circuit level. These projects would provide services to entities that contribute to public safety, like police stations and firehouses, by providing storage capabilities separate from the main grid.  SDG&E argues that these distributed storage systems will provide a wide-range of benefits, including grid resiliency, wholesale market revenues, and reduced dependency on non-renewable energy sources by minimizing the need for back-up generators.  SDG&E also plans to contribute $2 million toward a pilot energy storage incentive program for non-profit facilities, such as nursing homes.

Each of these utilities will roll out its initiatives over the remainder of 2018 and beyond.  K&L Gates will continue to monitor energy storage developments and provide updates.

[1] GTM Research / ESA, U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, https://www.greentechmedia.com/research/subscription/u-s-energy-storage-monitor#gs.KZIlnzQ (2017).

[2] Union of Concerned Scientists, How Energy Storage Works, https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/how-energy-storage-works#.WtAsTq2otD8 (2013).

[3] McKinsey & Company, The New Economics of Energy Storage, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/the-new-economics-of-energy-storage (August 2016). Energy Storage Report, Study: Flow Batteries Beat Lithium Ion, http://energystoragereport.info/study-flow-batteries-beat-lithium-ion/#sthash.c07jCAVv.gXdjY17t.dpbs (July 2017).

[4] K&L Gates, Energy Storage Handbook, http://www.klgates.com/epubs/Energy-Storage-Handbook-Vol2/ (April 2018).

Event: Blockchain in Energy Forum 2018

We invite you to join us for GTM Squared’s Blockchain in Energy Forum on March 7, 2018 live in New York City and available to stream online. Washington, D.C. associate and co-author of The Blockchain Energizer, Benjamin Tejblum, will be presenting on the implementation of blockchain and how to best navigate regulations and new business models. Additional topics to be covered will include a discussion on distributed ledger technologies, re-envisioning the future, enabling a transactive grid, and optimizing operations and identifying new opportunities.

Please note you must be a member of GTM Squared to participate.

FERC Schedules Technical Conference to Explore Generator Interconnection Issues

On March 29, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued a Notice of Technical Conference announcing that it will hold a technical conference on May 13, 2016, to explore generator interconnection issues faced by interconnection customers, transmission owners and transmission operators across the United States. The issues discussed during the technical conference could have significant implications for the generator interconnection process.

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K&L Gates and CleanTech Alliance to host Washington Department of Commerce’s Clean Energy Fund 2 Virtual Bidder’s Conference on January 12, 2016

The Washington State Department of Commerce is holding its Virtual Bidder’s Conference on January 12, 2016 at the Seattle office of K&L Gates to provide information to applicants about applying for Clean Energy Fund 2 grants.  As mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Clean Energy Fund provides grants to projects that support the development, demonstration and deployment of clean energy technologies.  The CleanTech Alliance has been hosting a series of public meetings across Washington State to provide a platform for the Washington Department of Commerce to provide information to and answer questions from applicants.

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FAST Act Expedites Permitting and Environmental Review for Large Infrastructure Projects

Expedited permitting and environmental review for complex infrastructure projects may soon be a reality.  Buried at the end of its most recent transportation reauthorization package (the “FAST Act” or “Act”) is a significant new initiative intended to fundamentally change the way that federal agencies evaluate environmental impacts from, and issue permits for, construction of large infrastructure projects. [1]

National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) review and environmental permitting for complex infrastructure projects can be costly and protracted.  For instance, a U.S. Government Accountability Office Report stated that the average completion time for an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) in 2012 was 4.6 years. [2]  Between 2003 and 2012, the Department of Energy paid contractors an average fee of $6.6 million, and as much as $85 million, to prepare EISs. [3]  The cost to prepare an EIS is often borne by project sponsors.  Some transportation and water resources projects currently benefit from expedited permitting and environmental review procedures, [4] but the FAST Act is the first time that Congress has attempted to coordinate NEPA review across federal agencies and industry sectors.

Read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB

FERC Finds ISO New England’s Formula Rates and Accompanying Tariff Provisions to be Unjust and Unreasonable

On December 28, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order pursuant to Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”)[1] finding that the ISO New England Inc.’s Transmission, Markets and Service Tariff (“Tariff”) is unjust, unreasonable, and unduly discriminatory or preferential.  FERC’s determination was based on a finding that the Tariff lacks formula rate protocols and, by extension, lacks adequate transparency and challenge procedures with regard to the formula rates used by the ISO New England Participating Transmission Owners (“PTOs”).[2]  FERC also found that the formula rates themselves may be unjust and unreasonable or otherwise unlawful because the formula rates appear to lack sufficient detail to accurately determine how certain costs are derived and recovered.

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The Australian Energy Market Commission releases a draft report recommending against the implementation of optional firm access

On 12 March 2015 the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) released its draft report about a model for optional firm access to electricity transmission networks.

The report follows the development, testing and assessment of the optional firm access model by the AEMC at the request of the Council of Australian Governments’ Energy Council.

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FERC Announces Proposed Rule to Reduce Regulatory Burden for Generators that Own Generation Tie-Lines

In a Noticed of Proposed Rulemaking announced on May 16, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed the following three reforms to reduce regulatory burdens for generators that own generation tie-lines (also known as Interconnection Customer’s Interconnection Facilities or “ICIF”) and to promote the development of generation resources, while still ensuring open access to those seeking transmission service over the ICIF:

Blanket Waiver of Certain Open Access Rules: A public utility (1) that is subject to open access transmission tariff (OATT) requirements, open access posting requirements, and FERC’s standard of conduct rules solely because it owns, controls, or operates ICIF and (2) that sells electric energy from its Generating Facility would be granted a waiver from the requirement to file an OATT and from related open access posting requirements and standard of conduct rules. Also, unlike under the current policy under which a third-party request for transmission service automatically revokes a generator’s OATT waiver, the proposed blanket waiver would not be revoked if transmission service over the ICIF is requested by a third party.

Federal Power Act (FPA) Sections 210 and 211 Apply to Third-Party Requests for Service: For a third party to obtain interconnection and transmission services on ICIF, the third-party must submit an application to FERC under Federal Power Act (FPA) sections 210 and 211, 16 U.S.C. §§ 824i-j. Sections 210 and 211 grant FERC the authority to require, respectively, the physical interconnection of a third-party’s facilities and the provision of transmission service to a third party if FERC determines that doing so is in the public interest.

Five-Year Safe Harbor Preserving Priority Transmission Rights: ICIF owners that are eligible for the proposed blanket waiver would be entitled to a rebuttable presumption that (1) they have definitive plans to use the capacity on the ICIF and (2) they should not be required to expand their facilities. The rebuttable presumption would last for a period of five years following the ICIF’s energization. However, the ICIF owner would need to make an informational filing to FERC reporting that its five-year safe harbor period had begun. The safe harbor period is intended to preserve eligible ICIF owners’ priority use, which is particularly important to generation projects that will be developed in phases.

The proposed reforms would replace FERC’s current policy of granting priority transmission rights and waivers of OATT and related open access requirements to ICIF owners on a case-by-case basis. FERC found that its current case-by-case approach has created undue risk, burden, and uncertainty for generation developers. The proposed reforms are intended to mitigate these problems while still ensuring open, non-discriminatory access to the transmission grid.

FERC’s announcement seeks comments from the industry on ways to implement and refine the proposed rule, including comments on: (1) the circumstances under which the proposed blanket waiver should not apply or might be revoked, (2) whether planned future use by an affiliate of an ICIF owner is an appropriate factor for the Commission to consider when making a priority rights determination in a Section 210 or 211 proceeding, and (3) whether the structure and length of the proposed safe harbor period is appropriate. Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after the notice of the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.

Stay tuned for more alerts from K&L Gates with more in-depth analysis of the proposed rule. If you would like to sign up to receive K&L Gates energy alerts, you can do so here.

 

California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO) Proposes Transmission Tariff Changes

On January 30, 2014, the California Independent System Operator Corporation (“CAISO”) submitted proposed tariff changes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) in Docket No. ER14-1206-000 to implement policy and process enhancements to the project sponsor competitive selection process that takes place during the third stage of CAISO’s transmission planning process. The proposed tariff changes were developed by CAISO over the past several months as part of its Competitive Transmission Improvements stakeholder initiative, which began in September 2013. The proposed tariff changes address five issues:

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