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Energy Storage Association: Trump can’t stop the inexorable rise of storage

Image: Flickr user: Michael Vadon.
There is a significant opportunity for energy storage under the Trump administration, the US Energy Storage Association has said.

“We’ve been striving to get the engagement from the federal government, the worst they could do is not talk to us. But they’ve already indicated and shown an interest in engaging with this industry so all signs point to some sort of opportunity to advance storage within this administration,” Matt Roberts, executive director of the ESA, told Energy-Storage.News.

In fact, storage has been on the radar of the GOP since the election, when a brief line regarding electricity energy storage was mentioned in the official party platform. Now, president Trump has made clear that infrastructure and grid modernisation are key priorities in his wider energy policy; whereby energy storage certainly has a part to play.

“If you want to talk about grid resiliency, energy storage is part of that conversation. If you want to talk about load modulation, demand response, storage is a part of that conversation," Roberts said.

“Whatever front this administration moves on, there is a sizeable opportunity for energy storage to be a big part of that conversation and currently it looks like the focus of this administration, least in the first 100 days, or the first year, is to push through on infrastructure…things like tax parity or other treatment of storage could be a part of that conversation as well.”

FERC's proposals to implement market participation rules

More specifically, the storage industry hopes to engage with the federal level through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on proposals. The body is in the middle of processing three different proposals including docket AD 1620 that would seek to implement market participation rules; which are key for a burgeoning industry.

“It basically seeks to acquire all the wholesale markets that have treatment for energy storage for the value that it delivers,” explained Roberts. “So that's a major initiative at the federal level that is really going to unlock multi-billion dollar markets - for capacity, energy and also for transmission deferral and upgrade that energy storage has a big opportunity in.”

So far, Roberts is confident that there is at least “an appetite” to learn about energy storage through that specific proposal from the Trump administration. Whilst there is not an extensive amount of energy storage mentioned in the new administration’s agenda, this plan to engage with it is a big step forward, considering storage has traditionally lacked any engagement at the federal level.

“We are probably the one industry out there saying 'hey - please regulate us!' We want to be regulated because to be regulated is to be recognised. Someone has to put pen to paper and go, what is this thing? How much is it worth? How much of it do we need?”

Matt Roberts, ESA executive director. Image: Energy Storage Association
Lack of federal engagement

Historically, energy storage has not seen any dialogue from any administration. The Obama administration did host a White House Summit for private investment in the industry, but there have been no specific policies to advance the technology. That being said, US storage has risen as a significant market in its own right – even in the absence of federal policies.

“This industry is succeeding and there are headlines every other day, and that's all without any sort of dedicated kind of programme at the federal level driving it. It's succeeding because it has an inherent value and the use case and value proposition is very clear.

“What needs to change is a lot of the market rules and participation rules. And whilst some of that is at the federal level with say FERC, a lot of that is going to be at the state level. Regardless of who is in charge for the next four years, whatever the outcome of the election had been, our focus as an organisation and as an industry is increasingly focusing on state, and how we can evolve state markets and create new opportunities at the state level.”

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