Energy storage has become a hot topic, vitalized by the need to address issues related to green electrical construction, smart grid initiatives and energy independence. You won’t hear about it on the news every day (not yet, anyway). But, any time you do an Internet search on the term, you’re bound to come up with some fresh information, because the dynamic energy-storage industry is moving with increasing velocity. Here’s a little sample, just two interesting pieces right off the top of my Google:


In fact, much of the information about energy storage currently flowing in Internet newsfeeds concerns raising technology and lowering costs. From the world’s leading research organizations announcing breakthroughs on a regular basis to energy-storage startups announcing initial public offerings, it’s going to happen. An energy-independent future made possible through the widest possible use of renewable and alternative sources is coming to fruition because of it.


Energy storage isn’t only about delivering a constant power load to compensate for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. Energy harvesting and storage devices can also balance microgrids to achieve a good match between generation and load. They can provide frequency regulation to maintain the balance between the network’s load and power generated. They can also achieve a more reliable power supply for high-tech industrial facilities. In other words, energy storage is an important component of the work we do on both the utility and customer sides of the service point.


Make no mistake about it: Energy storage is electrical work performed routinely by qualified electrical contractors and electricians. That’s been clear ever since America’s very first National Electrical Code (NEC) came out in 1897 with safety requirements for batteries and battery installations. Every edition of the NEC since has included rules for energy-storage device installers and maintenance technicians.


The 2017 edition is expected to contain an entire new article covering all permanently installed energy-storage systems capable of saving up electricity for use at a future time—electrochemical storage devices (batteries), flow batteries, capacitors, and kinetic-energy devices (flywheels and compressed air). As you know, the NEC is developed through consensus procedures that allow both broad public review and participation by the very people whose work it governs. With a NECA contractor serving on every Code-making panel, and NECA’s Executive Director of Standards and Safety Michael Johnston chairing the Correlating Committee for the entire Code, I am extremely proud of our association’s involvement.


I’m also proud of NECA’s development of National Electrical Installation Standards (NEIS) that go beyond the NEC. I’m downright excited to inform you that NECA 416, Recommended Practice for Installing Stored Energy Systems, is undergoing industry review right now.


I anticipate that NECA 416 will be approved through the American National Standards Institute’s open review process and released later this year as the definitive performance standard for energy-storage work involving the installation and maintenance of battery systems, flywheels, capacitors, and smart chargers for electric vehicles (EVs); vehicle-to-X applications, such as vehicle-to-home; and vehicle-to-grid applications. With a careful and watchful eye on industry evolution, NECA is well prepared to continue as a leader in standards development for this important, emerging energy technology, so there’s simply no need for anyone else to attempt to reinvent the wheel. Construction specifiers, such as architects and engineers, have grown to trust NECA’s quality and performance standards.


After the release of this new standard, NECA will be busy training and qualifying the electrical construction industry for the installation, maintenance, repair and retrofitting of energy-storage equipment. As renewable power, EVs and the smart grid become more widespread and integrated, energy storage will generate many business opportunities. NECA simply wants to preserve these opportunities for the professionals who are most well-equipped to handle the work: ­qualified electrical contractors and electricians.