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‘Great day for energy storage’ as New York governor Cuomo approves setting of deployment target

New York governor Andrew Cuomo approved the bill, while also authoring an approval memorandum. Image: Pat Arnow.

New York has become the latest US state to decide to support energy storage through its legislature and will be setting targets for deployment of the technologies in the coming weeks.

State governor Andrew Cuomo, credited by some in the industry for helping initiate and persevering with the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (NY REV) programme to modernise and add flexibility to the grid, has just approved Assembly Bill A6571 - Establishing the energy storage deployment programme.

First tabled by multiple sponsors in March this year, the bill was delivered to state Assembly and passed through Senate in June. It instructs the regulator, New York Public Service Commission (NYPSC), to develop a programme supporting the deployment of energy storage across the state. As part of that, a procurement target will be established, which is to be reached by 2030. There has been no indication yet of what that target might be. Cuomo signed off on the bill on 29 November.

The bill calls for “commercially available technology” which is cost-effective and can assist in lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reducing peak demand, reducing the need for expensive infrastructure upgrades and otherwise improving the reliability of the electrical network, all cornerstones of the NY REV programme. Technologies could include mechanical, chemical or thermal energy storage.

California has in place the mandate AB 2514, which requires the three investor-owned utilities in the state to deploy 1.325GW of energy storage by 2024 in four biennial solicitations, another 500MW was added to that target in May this year. Meanwhile, Massachusetts has set a 200MWh “aspirational” i.e. non-binding target for electric distribution companies by the beginning of the year 2020. More recently in New Mexico, the state Public Regulation Commission (NMPRC) in August unanimously voted to amend its rules governing utilities’ integrated resource planning (IRP) to allow power companies to include energy storage in those IRPs.

As with June’s announcement that the bill was passing through the legislative process, key trade groups NY BEST and the US’ national Energy Storage Association have warmly welcomed Cuomo’s approval of it.

Recently appointed ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman called it a “great day for energy storage in New York”.

“We applaud Governor Cuomo, Assemblywoman Paulin, and Senator Griffo for their leadership on energy storage and their historic decision to pass and enact Assembly Bill 6571. By signing the bill into law, the Governor joined the unanimous opinion of the legislature that a long-term commitment to deploy energy storage is critical to a more reliable and resilient, affordable, and sustainable electric system for New Yorkers.”

The state’s “long-term commitment” to its goals, Speakes-Backman said, sent out a “strong signal to the rapidly growing US energy storage industry to invest and hire New York.”

According to the ESA chief, her trade association will be among the stakeholders working with the NYPSC, with NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) and LIPA (Long Island Power Authority) to develop the programme and set the targets.

Similarly, NY BEST executive chairman William Acker said his group “applauded” Governor Cuomo for his actions.

“This legislation ensures that action will be taken in 2018 to help accelerate deployment of energy storage resources on the state’s electric grid and help achieve the State’s clean energy goals.”

However, NY BEST’s statement acknowledged that Cuomo has also put his name to an approval memorandum, a brief note filed with the bill as it passed. The memorandum acknowledges the “critical role” energy storage could play in promoting clean energy and relieving pressure on existing networks and infrastructure.

Cuomo said that while he is “fully committed to putting New York at the forefront of energy storage”, the drafted bill legislation might in some ways come into conflict with the aims of NY REV. At the same time, there would be some “fiscal burdens” created on state entities created that “should be addressed through the annual budget negotiations”, Cuomo wrote. Upcoming sessions should be held between the Executive and Legislature to address these concerns, the governor said.