As renewables account for a growing share of electricity generation, storage also plays an expanding role. Government contributes to this expansion by setting standards and targets both for renewable generation and for new storage capacity.

This summer, the administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker confirmed the commonwealth’s leading role in the new energy economy by establishing goals for electric distribution companies to acquire sufficient storage capacity. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced on June 30 that it is requiring companies to procure 200 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy storage by Jan. 1, 2020.

The new standards are designed to help the state meet the needs of the grid, which is getting more power from renewable sources. The order requires each electric distribution company to submit a report to DOER no later than Jan. 1, 2020. The report should detail how the companies have complied with the energy storage target. Companies will have to submit annual reports beginning on Jan. 1, 2018.

In calculating the achievement of the target, the DOER will consider a variety of procurement methods, such as the refinement of existing clean energy procurement methods, participation in alternative compliance payment funded pilot programs, and the use of energy efficiency funds. The target sets a flexible goal for the electric distribution companies to identify the most cost-effective applications and the best locations for energy storage deployment, including both in front of the meter and behind the meter applications.

The target fulfills the objectives of energy diversification legislation adopted in August 2016. It also builds on the governor’s Energy Storage Initiative (ESI), a $10 million commitment to analyze opportunities to support commonwealth storage companies and develop policy options to encourage energy storage deployment.

At the same time that it announced the new targets, the administration announced up to $10 million in additional funding for energy storage demonstration projects that are consistent with the findings of the ESI’s "State of Charge" study. Released by the DOER in September 2016, that study identified hundreds of millions of dollars of potential ratepayer benefits from the deployment of energy storage in Massachusetts.