A commission that studied the potential for projects to store excess renewable power generated in Maine has recommended that the state set a short-term goal of reaching 100 megawatts of capacity by 2025 to send an important signal to investors and developers.
The non-binding target is modest compared with what states such as Massachusetts and New York are proposing, and it doesn’t commit any state money. Still, the proposal recognizes the “value and benefits that strategic investment in energy storage can provide to energy consumers and the electrical grid,” according to the commission’s final report.
The recommendations, contained in a 16-page report, will next go the legislative committee that handles energy and utility issues.
Energy storage projects represent an emerging trend that dovetails with Maine’s ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by making a wholesale transition to renewable energy. They provide a potential power supply solution for when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.
The transmission lines connecting Maine’s far-flung renewable generators to the regional electric grid sometimes are too weak to carry all their power. When that happens, grid operators order generators to reduce output – or even stop running – to prevent overloading and jeopardizing reliable service. The practice is called curtailment.
Increased energy storage capacity in Maine would reduce curtailment and help squeeze more usable power out of existing sources of renewable energy generation.
The commission also recommended that the state create an incentive for energy storage projects that are paired with renewables such as solar and wind. That could happen by boosting the contract price for new projects shown to benefit ratepayers or the grid. It said the Governor’s Energy Office should develop and propose more robust energy storage targets as part of a future, in-depth energy storage study.
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