Massachusetts joins energy storage revolution with 200 MWh goal

Boston, Massachusetts, has been called the “birthplace of the American Revolution.” But while it may not be the birthplace of the energy-storage revolution (that distinction lies on the other coast in California), it has lined up with the revolutionaries once again, with a modest commitment to install 200 MWh of energy storage in the next three years.

An announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker and his administration on Friday revealed the goal, which was set by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). It follows that announcement of Baker’s Energy Storage Initiative (ESI), which allotted $10 million to help the state figure out how to support home-grown storage companies.

“As [Massachusetts] continues to make unparalleled investments in renewable energy, energy storage technologies have the potential to play an integral role in effectively deploying these new resources,” Baker said. “This target, paired with our Energy Storage Initiative, will cause the state and industry to lead the way on exploring the most cost-effective deployment of energy storage for Massachusetts’ ratepayers.”

Massachusetts also announced it was investing $10 million to fund demonstration energy-storage projects, consistent with the findings of the ESI’s State of Charge study, which was released by DOER in September. The agency has already implemented programs outlined in the report, including (but not limited to):

  • making the pairing of energy storage with solar in the new proposed solar incentive program, SMART, standard;
  • authorizing the pairing of energy storage technologies with the largest procurement of clean and offshore wind energy generation in state history, 9,450,000 MWh of clean energy generation and 1,600 MW of offshore wind energy generation;
  • continued energy-storage grant opportunities through the Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative; and
  • funding energy storage projects through the Peak Demand Reduction Grant Program.

Initial reaction to the plan, locally and nationally, was positive.

“Our members, many of whom are very concerned about the high cost of electricity in Massachusetts, are interested in energy storage as a means to reduce energy costs,” said Robert Rio, Senior Vice President, Associated Industries of Massachusetts. “We hope this technology will be quickly integrated into current energy efficiency programs for commercial and industrial consumers.”

“We are encouraged that the administration and the legislature have taken this initial step to advance energy storage in Massachusetts,” said Chris Rauscher, director of public policy at Sunrun. “The decision by DOER to set a soft energy storage target of 200 MWh is a moderate first step in providing long-term market surety. Growing the storage market in Massachusetts has the potential to support local job creation and lower costs for Massachusetts ratepayers, all while providing critical resiliency through backup power.”