Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rebates Extended for Energy Storage in California

Today, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, will sign AB 1150 into law.  This bill increases the funds available for the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) rebates.  These rebates have helped fund distributed storage projects in California and have been extended to include Energy Storage.  After many delays and changes in the SGIP program, these additional funds, plus the recent final ruling by the CPUC, will allow for substantial installations of energy storage.

US&R has participated directly and indirectly in all of the 8 MW's of energy storage projects that have applied for funding under the SGIP.  None have yet come to fruition, although some are still in process.  The main stumbling block to progress on these projects has been the constantly changing rules applied to the program.  US&R worked with VRB Power and Strategen to open the SGIP to energy storage. This was a process that took several years and occurred against a backdrop of changing legislation affecting the SGIP.  In late 2008, the CPUC finally agreed that energy storage could claim the SGIP, but only if "associated" with a fuel cell or wind turbine installation.

However, shortly after several projects began to come together, Strategen, on behalf of the newly formed California Energy Storage Alliance, filed an action with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to loosen the definition and technical requirements for energy storage.  That dragged on for months.  All projects were put on hold until developers, vendors and customers could be sure that their installation would qualify.  A decision was finally rendered that did little to make the rebate available to a wider range of technologies, but it did impose metering and verification requirements that were not required of any other technology.  Projects began to move forward again - but then the CPUC called a halt to any and all applications for the SGIP in December 2011.

It seemed that certain manufacturers (Bloom Energy) were reserving funds at an alarming rate.  The concern was that the funds would be depleted before the CPUC could agree on another revision to the eligibility requirements required by legislation in SB 412.

However, the final ruling by the CPUC has expanded the options for energy storage, reflecting the intent of prior legislation and AB 1150,
     "It is the intent of the Legislature that the self-generation incentive program increase deployment of distributed generation and energy storage system..."

US&R is actively developing energy storage projects for on-site applications at industrial and commercial end-users.  Please contact us if you are interested in on-site energy storage for your facility, solar PV, fuel cell or wind project.