California Senate Panel approves energy storage bill

california energy storage

The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee approved a bill this week that would empower consumers to take part in California’s clean energy future. SB 700, the Energy Storage Initiative, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), would create a marketplace for local energy storage to bring down prices and ensure access to storage for schools, businesses and consumers across the state.

“This bill allows the sun to shine at night by encouraging Californians to produce on-site solar power during the day and use energy storage to deploy that clean energy when most needed,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. “Getting California to a zero carbon future will require an unbelievable amount of storage to manage renewables on the grid and this bill is a key piece to that puzzle.”

The bill would create a rebate program for local, customer-sited energy storage. Much like the California Solar Initiative that transformed the Solar PV market, this bill would create a declining rebate system to encourage businesses to bring down prices and invest in our renewable future. California’s behind-the-meter storage market is in a similar position as that of PV a decade ago. This bill will provide stable, long-term and multi-faceted policy supports to ensure storage becomes a mainstream and commonplace technology. SB 700 includes provisions to ensure all Californians will participate by dedicating funds specifically to low-income and underserved communities.

“Not only does this bill encourage more private investment in our long road to 100 percent renewable energy, but it ensures access to storage technology around the state,” said Del Chiaro. “This bill will also provide benefits for all ratepayers by avoiding costly transmission and distribution upgrades and will move the state away from natural gas plant investments.”

The bill will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee. “With the passage of SB 700 on Monday, policy makers are showing signs of a real appetite to create a marketplace for local, customer-sited energy storage. Environmental groups, consumer groups, workforce training, low-income advocates and businesses see the value of storage. This bill is building momentum but it is a long road to the governor’s desk,” said Del Chiaro.

— Solar Builder magazine

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