Energy storage systems (“ESS”) can help increase grid efficiency, facilitate the operation of increasing amounts of renewable energy, and lower energy costs, among other benefits. As energy storage systems increase in number in Massachusetts, a myriad of questions have emerged regarding their regulation and integration into the electrical grid.
On February 9, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) released an order under Docket 19-55 with the goal of finding answers to some of these questions. The DPU will establish an Energy Storage Interconnection Review Group (“ESIRG”) focused on the implementation aspects of interconnecting ESS to the grid. The DPU has directed their Distributed Generation and Clean Energy Ombudsperson to work with relevant stakeholders, who include the distribution companies, the Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”), the Attorney General, and others, to form the ESIRG. The ESIRG will work in parallel to the Technical Standards Review Group (“TSRG”), which has been in place since 2012 to address technical issues in connection with interconnecting distributed generation in Massachusetts. The Ombudsperson must submit a report to DPU Commission on the status of forming and implementing the ESIRG by March 26, 2022.
The DPU opened their investigation into how ESS are interconnected to the grid under the distributed generation interconnection tariff (“DG Tariff”) in May 2019. While stakeholders did reach a consensus on certain revisions to the DG Tariff related to ESS interconnection, other issues, including whether certain restrictions on ESS operation are appropriate (including export limitation), remain open and under dispute. The DPU is hopeful that a working group will be effective at addressing emerging challenges associated with interconnecting and operating ESS. Multiple issues, including challenges with metering, tariff applicability, and ramp rate restrictions have presented hurdles to interconnecting ESS, and could be addressed through this process. It is critical that developers and operators of ESS actively participate in this process for it to be successful.