The Obama Administration Shows Support for Renewable Energy

Jesse Remillard, ERS, for Zondits

The Obama Administration showed its support for renewable energy, energy storage, and microgrids last Thursday, June 16, 2016, by hosting a Summit on Scaling Renewable Energy and Storage with Smart Markets. Both state and private sectors were represented at the Summit, and investment commitments totaling approximately $1 billion were made. The administration also announced a report entitled “Incorporating Renewables into the Grid: Expanding Opportunities for Smart Markets and Energy Storage,” which finds that renewable energy resources, along with wholesale market reforms, are creating new opportunities for energy storage and demand response technologies.

At the state and utility level, sixteen grid operators, power companies, and organizations announced renewables, smart grid, and electrical energy storage projects across eight states, including California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, Florida, and Vermont. Several initiatives are very innovative, namely a plan by Portland General Electric, Oregon’s largest electric utility, with Bonneville Power Administration to replace 3.5 million water heaters with smart water heaters that will effectively create a 10,000 MWH battery for less than $40 per kWh. A handful of utilities announced investments in more traditional energy storage. For example, Duke Energy plans to deploy at least 5 MW, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power aims to procure 24 MW by the end of this year.

[bctt tweet=”Smart grid technologies and energy use data will be critical to support carbon neutral goals.” username=”ZonditsEE”]

In addition, seventeen developers, manufacturers, and investors made commitments to energy storage and smart metering deployments. Energy storage investments, smart meters, and data collection methods developed in the private sector are receiving increased attention for their ability to allow grid operators to manage peak loads, renewables, and demand response events. The Green Button Alliance, Opower, and Con Edison, in partnership with Siemens, are leveraging the availability of smart meter data for consumer benefit through investigation of energy use patterns, time of use pricing, and availability of renewable generation.

These collaborative commitments between private, state, and national level entities are shaping the next generation of grid management and grid technologies, such that future utility grids are likely to be more resilient, responsive, and renewable than today’s grids. While these traits lend themselves to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, they do not lend themselves to simpler structures, and so smart grid technologies and energy use data will be critical to supporting these transitions.

Image credit: tpsdave