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ACWA/CESA Energy Storage Summit Explores Industry’s Successes and Challenges

Water and energy utility managers from throughout California attended an energy storage summit in Sacramento today that explored new technologies and management techniques in the emerging energy storage field.

Jointly organized by ACWA and the California Energy Storage Alliance, the day-long summit explored issues ranging from pumped hydro storage to centralized battery storage to financing and siting. Many speakers at the summit discussed how energy storage is increasingly important to help address fluctuations in energy availability from the grid, particularly since wind and solar energies are highly susceptible to changes in weather. The abundance of solar energy on the electricity grid during daytime hours in particular has required a shift in timing for other types of energy production and transmittal.

ACWA President Kathy Tiegs delivered opening remarks in which she described energy storage as “one of the changing issues affecting California water.”  

Alex Morris, director of policy and regulatory affairs for CESA, also provided welcoming remarks and said “there is a whole new suite of (energy storage) technologies that are finding their feet today.”

The opening panel focused on pumped hydro storage, its new technologies and policy and regulatory issues. Increasingly, operators of hydro projects are shifting pumping of water to daytime hours due to the lower cost of the energy due to the abundance of solar, and are producing energy in the evenings when it is often most needed.

Kelly Rodgers, an energy program manager for the San Diego County Water Authority, said it is crucial for water managers to be “agile and dynamic in the energy market” to adapt to the changes in the market.

During a late morning panel on the California Public Utilities’ view of the role of grid-connected storage, Molly Sterkel, program manager in the CPUC Energy Division, said changes in the production of energy, primarily due to increased solar during daytime hours, may require exporting the energy out of state.

“We’re not going to sit around and dump this overgeneration. We’re going to find a market for it,” said Sterkel. She also said energy rate structures will need to address changes in availability.

Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) delivered the keynote address at lunch and highlighted the challenges that lie ahead in terms of climate change. He said California has been a leader in meeting these challenges.

Quirk added that California needs to show the world that “we can reduce greenhouse gases and still have a vibrant economy.”

Quirk is the author of AB 33, passed in 2016, which directs the CPUC and California Energy Commission to evaluate and analyze the potential for all types of long duration energy bulk storage and to help integrate renewable generation into the grid.

Other panels focused on managing electricity costs with distributed energy storage, and revenue opportunities for bulk storage. Imperial Irrigation District, Irvine Ranch Water District, and Fresno-Clovis Water Reclamation Facility presented case studies on their energy storage projects.

A full list of speakers is here.

(Photo: Assembly Member Bill Quirk speaks at the day-long energy summit.)

Original author: Pamela Martineau
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