Turning Talk into Action: Delivering on the Massachusetts Energy...
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Turning Talk into Action: Delivering on the Massachusetts Energy Storage Mandate

By Penni McLean-Conner, Chief Customer Officer and SVP, Eversource Energy

Penni McLean-Conner, Chief Customer Officer and SVP, Eversource Energy

There is a lot of talk about climate change, global warming and clean energy solutions. But talk alone is not sufficient. Talk must turn to action to meaningfully support a clean energy future. Turning talk into action requires that three essential elements are in place: a robust policy framework; an energized marketplace; and utility leadership. 

"Over the past 15 years, Massachusetts has been at the forefront of establishing policy frameworks that enable clean energy growth"

Massachusetts is turning talk into action and doing so at an accelerating pace. Massachusetts has established a strong regulatory and policy framework that creates a win-win-win scenario for business, the environment and consumers. The state has established a clean energy cluster that continues to bring innovative solutions to the market. Eversource is leading the transformation of the electric grid to one that supports a sustainable energy future.

Eversource, the largest electric and gas utility in New England, serves 3.5 million customers. The Eversource proposals for 150 MW of behind and in front of the meter active demand including storage as part of its grid modernization and energy efficiency plans were approved in Massachusetts in 2018. Accelerating progress to a clean energy future is supported by sharing ideas and best practices. This article explores the policy framework, market solutions and Eversource’s role in turning talk into action.

Policy

Over the past 15 years, Massachusetts has been at the forefront of establishing policy frameworks that enable clean energy growth. In 2008, Massachusetts passed The Green Communities act “designed to overcome barriers to the adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources”. The Global Warming Solutions Act also passed in 2008 set a goal for greenhouse gas reduction goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050 from 1990 levels. This plan has spurred the development of large-scale renewable generation, expansion of solar and establishment of a mandate for 1,000 MW of storage. This year, Massachusetts established the clean peak standard that will require an increasing percentage of peak generation be secured from renewable resources.

In Front of the Meter Storage

Eversource was the first utility in Massachusetts to secure approval in 2018 for 50 MW of grid-scale storage as part of its grid modernization proposal. With this proposal, Eversource will deploy one of the largest grid-scale battery solutions in the country. These grid-scale storage solutions will bring benefits in improving reliability, increasing the ability to bring distributed energy resources onto the distribution grid, and provide support during peak load periods.

One of the grid-scale projects is on Cape Cod. This project features a 25MW battery located in Provincetown, MA at the tip of the Cape and will primarily address reliability challenges. The 11,000 customers between the towns of Wellfleet and Provincetown are served by a single distribution line. They have experienced more than 45,000 customer outage hours over the past five years and have endured five major storms during that time. The traditional solution to improving reliability is to build a redundant distribution line through scenic Cape Cod. Fortunately, storage is a viable alternative and will allow these customers to ride through outages, or experience shorter duration outages, by leveraging the battery.

The 25 MW battery will power 38MWh of load. Based on electric load analysis the battery in the summer can support customer load for up to three hours, and in the winter up to 10 hours. The impact of this installation is expected to reduce the number and frequency of outages by at least 50 percent.

Behind the Meter (BTM) Demand Assets

Eversource is also enabling 100MW of behind the meter demand assets over the next three years. The distribution management system (DMS), part of our Grid Mod efforts, is being established to monitor, control and dispatch demand assets. For energy efficiency purposes, we are in the process of procuring a software platform that will allow us to dispatch the assets. The long term vision is for the DMS and dispatch platform to be intertwined but that is the future state.

Eversource secured approval for this 100MW plan building from several pilot projects that demonstrated the value of BTM storage. One of those pilot projects was in partnership with the IBEW Local (103) at their Boston vocational training facility. This facility is cooled using two 10-ton heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. But the HVAC units are being repurposed to create a nightly ice battery. The ice battery then serves to provide the needed cooling for the training facility during the day, reducing overall and peak usage.

Talk is turning to action in Massachusetts, and the commonwealth is successful because of the integration of three key components: a regulatory and policy structure that supports a clean energy future in a way that is good for business, customers and the environment; engaging a clean energy marketplace which is bringing a viable, cost-effective clean energy solution; and utility leadership in developing and securing approval for grid modernization proposals that will transform the grid to support a clean energy future.

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