Electrical Energy Storage in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission recently opened Docket IR 20-166  to investigate the use and compensation of energy storage projects (ESPs) in New Hampshire. ESP technologies can include batteries, flywheels, compressed air energy systems, heat storage, or any other technology, system, or device capable of taking electricity and storing it as some form of energy that can either be converted back into electricity or used to displace an electrical load at a later time.

The Commission’s ESP docket was opened pursuant to a newly-enacted statute, NH RSA 374-H, which originated as House Bill 715. In enacting House Bill 715, the legislature made several findings to support its conclusion that it is in the public interest to stimulate the deployment of energy storage in New Hampshire.  More specifically, the legislature found that: 1) energy storage has the potential to increase renewable energy and improve the state’s fuel diversity portfolio; 2) enabling greater use of renewable energy reduces air pollution, thereby lessening the electricity system’s negative impacts on both public health and environmental quality; 3) innovative technologies like energy storage can stimulate investment and employment in the state, thereby making a positive contribution to New Hampshire’s economy; and 4) energy storage has the potential to significantly reduce New Hampshire’s effective peak demand for electricity.

While none of these legislative findings includes the notion that ESPs should be compensated for avoided transmission and distribution costs, NH RSA 374-H:2, I. specifically directs the Commission to investigate how such compensation can be provided, while also allowing ESPs to participate in wholesale energy markets. The statute also directs that the Commission investigate utility and non-utility owned ESPs, as well as behind-the-meter storage and front-of-the meter storage.

NH RSA 374-H:2 specifies several issues that the Commission must consider, and requires the Commission to report its findings and recommendations to legislative committees having jurisdiction over energy and utility matters no later than 2 years after initiating the ESP proceeding. The Commission has set January 11, 2021, as the deadline by which electric distribution utilities, Commission Staff, and other interested stakeholders must file written comments with the Commission. Such comments may be electronically mailed to the Commission at executive.director@puc.nh.gov.  Commission staff will then review the comments, conduct a public stakeholder technical session on January 25, 2021, and issue a recommendation to the Commission by July 12, 2021. Written comments may be filed on that recommendation by August 16, 2021, and the Commission will hold a public comment hearing on September 3, 2021.  Thereafter, the Commission will submit its report and recommendations to the aforementioned legislative committees.

About the Author: Susan Geiger

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