A new article in the Christian Science Monitor, by venture capitalist and cleantech industry analyst Richard Stuebi, raises a question I'd never thought about before. Namely, with renewable energy generation booming in the United States, the question is, "Are storage standards next?"
In the cleantech sector, pretty much everyone knows the acronym RPS, for Renewable Portfolio Standards. Since the first RPS policy in the U.S., implemented in Iowa in the late 1990s, 30 states have passed similar policies to promote the installation of renewable energy projects and expedite penetration (overcoming the ambivalence or outright opposition of utilities) of renewable energy in electric power supply.
Now, as reported in this article, California is considering the adoption of what looks to be the first Storage Portfolio Standard: requirements for utilities to install grid-scale energy storage. Specifically, in early August, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted unanimously to adopt a framework for analyzing the energy storage needs of each utility. This builds upon a previous bill, AB 2514, which included a mandate for the CPUC to “determine appropriate targets, if any, for each load-serving entity to procure viable and cost-effective energy storage systems to be achieved by” the end of 2015 and 2020.
Of course, as the article points out, the major utilities are likely to continue resisting an SPS, just as many of them opposed the idea of an RPS. But that's certainly no reason for state and federal policymakers not to move forward on this. As one utility executive, quoted anonymously in the article, explains, "No technology has ever been widely adopted by the electric utility industry without having it mandated by the regulators.”