Category: News

Oregon utility seeks 100 ‘average megawatts’ of renewables

UPDATED: Oregon-based utility Portland General Electric Company (PGE) has issued a request for proposals (RfP) seeking 100 average megawatts (MWa) of renewable energy capacity.

Conrad Eustis, director of Retail Technology Strategy at PGE, said that 1MWa is equivalent to 8,760MWh – adding: “Thus to get 10MWa from rooftop solar in our service area you would need about 91MW of rooftop solar installations, or 62MW of solar with single-axis tracking, or about 50MW of solar with single-axis tracking if installed in Eastern Oregon (but then you’ll need a transmission path).”

Projects must be a minimum of 10MW in size and can use a range of technologies including geothermal, biomass, biogas, solar, wind and hydroelectric power. Bids can also be structured in a variety of ways, including power purchase agreements (PPAs) or proposals for facilities that PGE would own and operate.

PGE shared the RfP in draft form with potential bidders and stakeholders earlier this year, and on 16 May received final approval from Oregon Public Utility Commission to move forward with the competitive bidding process.

“We are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions,” said Maria Pope, PGE’s president and CEO. “Continuing to add renewable resources to our mix while keeping electricity affordable for our customers is key to that effort.”

Portland and the entire county of Multnomah have pledged to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Article updated to clarify that RfP is for 100 average megawatts.

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ENGIE’s commercial battery project drive $100k annual wedge into California’s water-energy nexus

California’s recent droughts and ongoing need to economise water use have inspired more commercial energy storage at a local water board, with ENGIE Storage delivering a project for the San Diego Water Authority.

The new battery energy storage project is expected to save the Authority (SDWA) US$100,000 per year on its energy costs. The batteries will be used to store low-cost solar energy for use during peak times and times of low solar generation. SDWA and ENGIE Storage, which was formerly known as Green Charge prior to its acquisition by the European utility, struck up a deal for the project in May 2017.

The batteries are being delivered under one of ENGIE Storage’s storage ‘as-a-service’ business models – they are being installed at no front cost to SDWA. Sited at Twin Oaks Valley Water Treatment Plant, they are coupled with 4,800 PV panels, already in place, that generate around 1.75 million kWh of power annually.

Andrea Altmann, senior management analyst at SDWA’s Energy Program, told Energy-Storage.News that the battery energy storage is a 1,000kW system which can store 2,000kWh per day. Altmann confirmed that the Water Authority “will be evaluating opportunities for more battery storage in the future,” in addition to exploring the construction of a possible 500MW pumped hydro facility and a handful of other initiatives.

The system is worth around US$2 million, with ENGIE Storage and SDWA striking up an agreement that the storage provider will own and operate it for 10 years. After this first decade, SDWA can consider purchasing the system, extending the existing agreement, or remove the project altogether from the site if desired. US$1 million in funding was available to the project through California’s SGIP (Self-Generation Incentive Program) which incentivises solar, and energy storage installed with solar.

It’s the latest project in California from the water sector. A project from fellow C&I energy storage market leader Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) for Long Beach Water Department to build a 500kW / 3,000kWh energy storage system was expected to save the Department around US$150,000 a year when it was announced in late December 2017. Meanwhile, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) contracted Doosan GridTech to build a 20MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS), aimed at reducing LADWP’s reliance on natural gas. 

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GTM: US could smash 1GWh deployment in 2018

While research published this week demonstrates that the US as a whole is embracing energy storage technology, with regulator FERC’s recent wholesale market ruling likely to have a “significant impact”, the picture varies greatly when looking from state-to-state, an analyst has said.

GTM Research found that in four years between 2013 and 2017, the US deployed over a gigawatt-hour (1,080MWh) of grid-connected energy storage. While the last quarter of 2017 was relatively down on the corresponding period a year before – around 77MWh to about 230MWh in Q4 of 2016 – this was due to the impact of long duration lithium-ion projects expedited in California in response to the Aliso Canyon gas leak.

Interestingly, despite the higher megawatt-hour capacities of those Q4 2016 (and Q1 2017) projects, installations in megawatts were slightly less down in Q4 2017, partly because of the growth of behind-the-meter projects, which took a 55% share of the total megawatts deployed. Behind-the-meter grew 79% year-over-year, while GTM senior analyst Dan Finn-Foley told Energy-Storage.News that the research group expects BTM to overtake grid-level projects for deployments by 2022.

Either way, despite the US only just crossing the first GWh threshold, GTM, which featured the findings in its quarterly Energy Storage Monitor’s annual review edition, predicts the country could replicate that feat four years in the making during 2018 alone, with 1,233MWh of deployments forecast for this calendar year. This would compare favourably with 2017, which saw 431MWh installed, nonetheless an increase of 27% on the year before that.

FTM opportunities quickly snapped up, regional outlook varies

At last week’s Energy Storage Summit held in London, England, several commentators spoke about how, in their view, market opportunities for front-of-meter grid services, especially frequency response will always remain limited and while an exciting first move for battery technologies, a quickly-saturated opportunity.

GTM’s Dan Finn-Foley agreed that this was the case in the US too, to some degree, albeit while acknowledging that future drivers of such a market are not fully known yet.

“This is indeed the case in the frequency regulation market, which is by its very nature a small market when compared to overall generation,” Finn-Foley told Energy-Storage.News.

“In PJM the market saturated, and we are seeing that in Texas now, where we are seeing installed capacity reach the 65MW cap in the ERCOT fast-responding signal market. With capacity applications, transmission and deferral projects, and renewable integration, it is more difficult to define a “cap”, so there is more headroom for the industry here.”

On one of the biggest recent stories to come out of the US regarding energy storage, FERC’s decision to evaluate the possible role and values of energy storage in wholesale markets, Finn-Foley said it could be a transformative move when regional transmission organisations’ (RTOs) responses to FERC have been collected and the market opens up.

It will take a year before the “tariffs are defined” and a further two years before full implementation, the analyst said, “but the effects will be significant”.

“Leveling the playing field for energy storage will allow it to compete in favorable markets (such as frequency regulation in some markets where it has limited paths for eligibility) but also give certainty for companies to create innovative business models involving participation in multiple markets,” Finn-Foley said, adding that GTM expected the proceeding to add some upside to forecasting, but that proceedings at regional level by independent system operators (ISOs), which “mirror the priorities of the FERC Order”, were taken into account already.

Indeed, as with solar PV, breaking the US down into regional or state markets can sometimes be key to understanding the real picture. Part of the rise in FTM deployments in MWh came from a handful of recent North Carolina long duration projects, for example.

As with each edition of the Monitor, GTM provides a look at policy and market developments state-by-state. Some key findings included the Public Utility Commission of Texas moving to study storage ownership by distribution utilities, low bid prices in a recent solicitation by utility Xcel in Colorado, New York’s newly established 1,500MW energy storage target, Arizona’s proposed 3GW target, Maryland’s energy storage tax credit, tax credits for BTM storage in Virginia and New Mexico, and a California Public Utilities Commission order on creating ‘virtual net metering’ programmes for energy storage and considerations of the greenhouse gas emission-reducing potential of energy storage in the ongoing SGIP incentive programme for solar and solar-plus-storage purchases by households and businesses.

Even the FERC Order, applying to about two-thirds of the US covered by RTOs and ISOs, will be subject to great regional variation and of course in several instances grid networks cross over state lines.

“It’s important to note that the FERC order is a federal directive but it is up to each ISO to implement at a local or semi-local basis, so this is a “federal” act that will ultimately be interpreted and implemented differently at the regional level,” Finn-Foley said.

“By this metric almost all storage has been driven at the local level, primarily by mandates and incentive/pilot programs at the state level, with the notable exception of PJM’s frequency regulation market which drove significant growth.”

Finn-Foley did note that on a Federal level, a tax credit for energy storage, already being considered by the House of Representatives, was a rare form of policy which could impact the industry across the whole country and could “drive [federal-level] growth at a similar scale to state efforts”.

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California utility SDG&E seeks 166MW energy storage as public emergency response asset

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), one of California’s three main investor-owned utilities (IOUs), said this week that it will add resilience and backup capabilities to public sector buildings through the procurement of “up to 166MW” of energy storage.

According to a proposal submitted by the utility to regulator California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), public sector buildings that serve as emergency facilities during emergency situations, providing safety and security in earthquakes, forest fires and other potential disasters, would be supported by seven energy storage projects.

Fire stations, police stations, evacuation sites and emergency operation centres would host the systems. It appears all seven projects have been proposed and to some extent developed already, with their installation planned in phases leading up to completion by 2024.

The utility is also including in the procurement drive a means for nonprofit care facilities to receive incentives to purchase energy storage systems. The Energy Storage Customer Program Pilot, as it will be known, will enable care homes of various types to receive cash sums towards funding system purchases. Currently, California also has in place the statewide SGIP (Self-generation Incentive Program) which offers residential and business customers incentives on purchases of storage systems, but only if deployed in combination with solar PV. 

SDG&E said the filing of the proposal is in line with the terms of California legislature Assembly Bill 2868, which was brought into law by CPUC in late 2016. It instructs the state’s investor-owned utilities, bound by another rule, AB2514, to put in place plans to deploy between them 1.35GW of energy storage in their service areas by 2020, to “file applications for programs and investments to accelerate widespread deployment of distributed energy storage systems”. SDG&E said it expects to deploy more than 330MW of energy storage by 2030.

Crucially, AB2868 requires the PUC to prioritise programmes and investments “that provide distributed energy storage systems to public sector and low-income customers”. Failure to comply with this aspect of the legislature constitutes a crime, the bill reads, making AB2868 a “state-mandated local programme”. 

In late December 2017, another of the California IOUs, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), announced a similarly-sized procurement, 165MW across six projects. Unlike SDG&E’s latest procurement, PG&E’s was intended for each project to address at least one of the following three issues: optimisation of the grid, integration of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction. In April last year, SDG&E also signed contracts for 83.5MW of four-hour duration energy storage to provide capacity by 2021, while in February it opened what was at the time the world’s biggest lithium battery energy storage system, a 30MW/120MWh project in Escondido. 

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GTM: Front-of-meter cost declines will slow as industry grows 6x over by 2022

While energy storage system price declines have slowed down in recent times in the US, standardisation of design and engineering will be among the key drivers in bringing down balance-of-system hardware and EPC costs.

A new report from GTM Research, analysing prices for front-of-meter, mostly grid-scale energy storage systems in the US, makes the claims, forecasting that there will be annual price declines of about 8% through to 2022. This is a slower pace than previous declines, lead author and industry sector analyst Mitalee Gupta said.

GTM said it expects front-of-meter energy storage systems, installed at utility or grid-level to benefit the network with services including frequency regulation and, increasingly, capacity, rather than the benefits to end customers such as increased solar self-consumption or peak load shaving which come from behind-the-meter systems, will grow six times in number between 2017 and 2022. 

Timeline for price decline trends in four ‘Phases’

The company also supplied the graph below which highlights some key trends.

It shows that while battery price declines were the initial driver for overall drops in system prices between 2013 and mid-2014, by 2015 reductions in BoS costs, defined by GTM as every component in the energy storage system excluding the battery module or modules, had taken over as the primary driver of price reductions.

From around mid-2016, GTM’s graph shows that increased uptake of advanced lithium battery solutions for stationary storage across various markets, drove down battery prices and BoS costs even further. Production ramp up, growing competition and system design and engineering improvements all converged as factors causing the trend of price reduction to continue.

Looking to the future, Phase 4 of price decline trends as defined by Gupta and her team of energy storage analysts, which is expected to take place from late 2019 to 2022, will see a slowing rate of decline in battery and BOS prices, particularly after 2020. Further improvements will be derived from the collective experience of the industry, GTM predicted.

Software, inverters as critical components

While only one part of an energy storage system, lithium battery costs per kWh have approximately halved in the last 10 years from industry benchmarks of around US$500 per kWh to a range of about US$250 to US$350 per kWh today, according to various other sources. Meanwhile, GTM asserts that at present BOS costs which include inverters and thermal management systems, make up about 40% of a system’s total ‘price stack’.

Storage inverters are more expensive than solar-only devices, as they generally require bi-directionality (the ability to output power or to charge up from the grid), GTM said. However, there is nonetheless industry pressure on the makers of inverters to “decrease the price premium” on storage inverters.

Energy storage software, often identified as an increasingly important piece of the overall system for the management, control and monitoring capabilities it allows, is estimated by GTM to cost US$37 per kW by 2022.

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NextEra sues US treasury over ‘missing’ US$135 million in grants

NextEra Energy is suing the US Treasury Department for more than US$135 million claiming that it miscalculated grants owed to it for the Silver State Solar project in Nevada.

Owners of the 250MW plant, completed in mid-2016, applied for grants under the 1603 Treasury Program, introduced as part of a broader 2009 stimulus package. It provides energy infrastructure investors with cash grants in lieu of tax credits. NextEra requested US$289.1 million but received US$152.4 million.

According to the court filing, the Treasury reduced its valuation of the asset but failed to explain how it had arrived at the new figure following its own 15-month review. After an adjustment to US budgets, the award was reduced to US$141.9 million.

“This review process consisted of a series of ad hoc communications, questions, and commentary from Treasury. However, Treasury did not provide any written explanation of its position or how it ultimately determined its award amounts,” the NextEra complaint states.

The Treasury reduced what it considered to be eligible costs of the project from US$963,677,683 to US$508,008,767. The project uses First Solar modules and single-axis trackers. It was built in eight blocks, the first of which was completed in October 2015.

Separately, the accounting of a US$32 million EPC deal is in dispute, with NextEra seeking a further US$9 million in grants related to the costs embedded in that contract.

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AES and KIUC break ground on Hawaii’s largest solar-plus-storage system

AES Distributed Energy (AES DE), a subsidiary of AES Corporation, and nonprofit transmission firm Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) have broken ground on a 28MW solar and 100MWh five-hour duration battery energy storage system in Kauai, Hawaii.

The Lāwa’i Solar and Energy Storage Project, the largest hybrid solar and storage project in Hawaii, will be located on former sugar land between Lāwaʻi and Kōloa, on Kauai’s south shore. It will provide 11% of KIUC’s generation capacity and increase the portion of renewables in its mix to 60%.

The price will be US$0.11/kWh, which is significantly below the cost of diesel generation, said KIUC’s president and chief executive, David Bissell.

“This will not only provide downward pressure on rates, but also helps us avoid the use of 3.7 million gallons of diesel each year,” he added.

Last October, AES announced it would be using SunPower’s scalable Oasis Power Plant platform for the solar plant.

The battery system will also improve the island’s grid resiliency, providing dispatchable energy from the solar system, with the ability to deliver consistent peak power output for up to five hours outside of daytime hours, alongside power production going straight to the grid during daytime hours.

Woody Rubin, president of AES DE, said: “AES has had a presence in Hawaii for more than 25 years, and this first-of-its-kind project demonstrates our continued commitment to the state’s vision of a cleaner energy future. This innovative project will help reduce Kauai’s reliance on fossil fuels while generating clean, reliable and affordable energy.”

Hawaii has a goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2045 and solar and storage combinations have been a major focus already. The Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission last year approved two new programmes expanding its customers’ abilities to install rooftop PV and energy storage systems. Similarly, in 2016, SolarCity chose Tesla, which later acquired SolarCity, to supply a 52MWh utility-scale energy storage system, which will make the output of a solar farm in Hawaii dispatchable.

Meanwhile, the US Navy is building a 44MW solar power plant with energy storage, also on Kaua’i, while ‘intelligent’ commercial storage provider Stem is aggregating customer systems into a 1MW ‘virtual power plant’ on another island, O’ahu.

Scale of such projects is consistently growing. For example, this week Australia also saw its first large-scale, grid-connected solar-plus-storage system come online, having been built by Conergy.

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ROUNDUP: Redflow ‘large scale battery’, KACO new inverter, PetersenDean picks SolarEdge/LG Chem

Redflow creates 450kWh systems from smaller units

21 February 2018: Australian flow battery manufacturer Redflow, which has just begun implementing mass production techniques at its factory in Thailand, has now created a ‘large-scale battery’ (LSB) with a capacity of 450kWh.

The company is known for its 10kWh ZBM2 zinc bromide flow batteries, which it mostly sells to commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, touting advantages including cheap and recyclable plastic parts which it claims will lower the cost of both production and purchase.

Redflow said that company founder and former CEO Simon Hackett has installed a Redflow LSB at property he owns in Adelaide, underneath a 50kW solar array, linked to another 20kW solar installation.

The LSB uses 45 separate ZBM2 batteries, along with six 12kW Victron Quattro 48/15000 battery inverter/chargers in what Redflow described as both a “simplification” and the addition of ‘plug and play’ capabilities to the product’s installation process.

“Although we initially purchased a large industrial AC inverter with the LSB, it lacked the monitoring, logging or control systems to let it interact with our on-site solar. While we could charge and discharge our large battery ‘manually’, we couldn’t integrate it with the building, without an expensive consulting project to develop a bespoke third-party control system,” Hackett said, before Redflow settled on combining the system with a Victron Energy CCGX controller unit.  

KACO introduces new battery inverter

21 February 2018: Germany-headquartered solar inverter manufacturer KACO has unveiled a new 50kW device that the company claims is designed with versatility in mind, including compatibility with batteries from a range of providers.

The blueplanet gridsave 50.0 TL3-S is a bi-directional inverter with a claimed efficiency of 98.5%. Aimed at the commercial and industrial (C&I) and utility-scale markets, KACO said it is compatible not only with lithium-ion batteries, but potentially other types as well.

The device can be operated in parallel on the DC side, connecting a high-capacity battery to several inverters. This allows for high system availability – different batteries could perform different tasks, or be scheduled to do so at different times – and high efficiency, the company claimed.

The system can also be installed in parallel on the AC side and safely installed outdoors. It will be officially launched at Energy Storage Europe next month in Germany.

US contractor PetersenDean selects SolarEdge, LG Chem for home energy push

21 February 2018: PetersenDean, a major home improvement contracting company in the US, has selected SolarEdge inverters and LG Chem batteries to create what the company calls “an affordable path to solar ownership and energy storage”.

PetersenDean Roofing & Solar apparently installs approximately 2,000 solar PV systems and roofing solutions each month. The installation subsidiary will offer customers LG Chem’s 9.8kWh Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU) 10H battery systems, along with a complete inverter solution from Israel-headquartered SolarEdge which includes module-level power electronics, integrated into the company’s StorEdge energy management platform.

LG Chem batteries were among the first to be announced as compatible with SolarEdge technology, along with Tesla’s Powerwall.

“Both of these companies’ commitment to technology, coupled with efficient and high-quality manufacturing processes produces solutions that exhibit the highest levels of safety, performance, and reliability,” PetersenDean Roofing & Solar CEO Jim Petersen said.

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FERC ruling a ‘significant step’ towards wholesale market participation for energy storage

A unanimous vote taken by the US regulator FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) which would allow energy storage and other distributed energy resources to play into wholesale markets has been hailed as a “significant step” forward.

FERC voted 5-0 in Item E-1, a draft ‘Final Rule on Electric Storage Resource Participation in Markets Operated by Regional Transmission Organisations, or RTOs, and Independent System Operators, or ISOs’. The rule sets out frameworks through which electricity storage can participate in various capacity, energy and ancillary services markets operated by RTOs and ISOs – the operators of the US’ transmission and distribution (T&D) networks.

While the commissioners accepted this entrance of energy storage to be a desirable and perhaps inevitable outcome, there is still one further hoop for the rule making to pass through – a technical conference will be convened in April by FERC to gather information on all of the proposed and potential reforms to the way distributed energy resources can be aggregated on electricity networks.

RTOs and ISOs are asked to establish participation models for storage in the wholesale markets of  their service areas, including technical parameters, minimum resource size requirements and eligibility. The drafted Final Rule also “requires that the sale of electric energy from the RTO or ISO market to an electric storage resource that the resource then resells back to those markets must be at the wholesale locational marginal price”.

Trade groups Advanced Energy Economy, Energy Storage Association quick to applaud FERC

Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group formed by private companies looking to modernise and decarbonise their energy supply and generation, and counting the likes of Apple, AES, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Sunpower, NEXTracker, Facebook, E.On and many others among its members, had already applauded the initiative when first put forward in late 2016 and early 2017.

The group once again stepped forward to commend the FERC rulemaking.

“Through today’s order, FERC has taken a significant step toward removing barriers that keep advanced energy technologies from competing in wholesale electricity markets on the basis of their ability to improve the reliability, resilience, and affordability of our energy system. Energy storage can help reduce costs to consumers and ensure that the lights stay on,” Malcom Woolf, AEE senior vice president for policy, said.

“We firmly believe that aggregated DERs deserve the same opportunity to compete on the basis of price and performance, and   look forward to engaging in a formal process to ensure barriers are removed for these critical energy resources as well.”

Meanwhile, the US Energy Storage Association’s CEO, Kelly Speakes-Backman, called FERC’s latest action, “the culmination of a concentrated and holistic review of the framework needed to support participation of vital electric storage technologies in the wholesale markets”.

“Since the rulemaking was initiated in November 2016, the Energy Storage Association – driven by the tireless efforts of its Vice President of Policy, Jason Burwen – has advocated for establishing transparent, standardised RTO and ISO policies regarding the participation and integration of electric storage,” Speakes-Backman said.

“Electric storage technologies already fulfill crucial functions in the bulk power system to provide reliable power and a more resilient grid.  With this morning’s unequivocal action, the FERC signaled both a recognition of the value provided by storage today, and more importantly, a clear vision of the role electric storage can play, given a clear pathway to wholesale market participation.”  

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FPL deploys the US’ first DC-coupled grid-scale battery at Florida solar farm

Utility Florida Power & Light claims that a just-completed battery addition will increase output from a large-scale solar farm in its home state, thought to be the first time a DC-coupled solution has been used at this scale in the US.

Some residential energy storage battery systems available in the States and elsewhere already utilise DC-coupling, but the configuration is new for utility-scale plants. FPL’s newly unveiled solar-plus-storage system will be able to integrate into the network surplus energy that would otherwise be ‘clipped’ from an AC-coupled solution during peak generation periods when the sun beats down the hardest.

As with a few other recent projects co-locating batteries with wind or solar, the overall idea behind the project is to create a clean dispatchable energy resource. Using batteries to increase generation yield and to add predictability to the power plant’s output means it will be easier to co-ordinate with the balancing of other assets on the grid network, FPL said.

FPL, part of the NextEra group of companies, will deploy a 4,000kW / 16,000kWh (4MW / 16MWh) battery storage system at FPL Citrus Solar, a 74.5MW PV plant completed in 2016 and one of three of the same capacity developed in Florida’s DeSoto County by the utility.

FPL said NextEra Energy companies have been researching and testing battery storage tech to assess the potential benefits for “several years”, with around 130MW / 100MWh of battery storage systems under their operation. This included a few pilot projects. Following a rate agreement ruling with the regulator, Florida Public Service Commission, FPL plans to develop 50MW of battery storage in an undetermined timeframe – the utility said in the “next few years” in a release. Parent company NextEra has recently unveiled plans for battery projects in Arizona.

FPL president and CEO Eric Silagy said the firm had “set a standard” for low-cost solar development and was now “looking at the next level” – adding batteries.

“By harnessing more solar energy from the same power plant, this has the potential to further reduce our fossil fuel consumption and save our customers even more money on their electric bills,” Silagy said.

FPL has added 520MW of PV capacity in the past two years and will have completed a further 300MW by the end of February. The utility touted the ability of solar to improve FPL’s carbon emissions profile and keep customer rates low for the long term.

Meanwhile, development of an energy storage market for Florida has lagged behind other leading states in the US, with few project announcements emerging. However, a recently proposed piece of legislation called for the establishment of a pilot programme within Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to investigate and correctly value the use of solar-plus-storage systems in preventing or coming back from energy supply and delivery problems stemming from natural disasters and other causes.

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