Is New Hampshire on the verge of battery energy storage history?
The only question left to be settled is a big one: Should utilities own behind-the-meter batteries?
A small investor-owned utility in New Hampshire may be on the verge of regulatory approval for one of the most ambitious U.S. tests yet of utility-owned, customer-sited battery energy storage systems.
In the process, regulators and stakeholders of the DE 17-189 proceeding are wrestling with a question of vital interest to the rest of the 3,000-plus U.S. utilities: Should a utility own customer-sited storage or is it a distributed energy resource (DER) that should be left to private sector providers?
Utilities have already seen the benefits that large-scale battery energy storage offers in shaving peak demand, providing grid services, and making systems more flexible. There is a clear opportunity to use customer-sited battery storage in the same way. But the question of how far utilities can intrude into markets so far served by private sector vendors must first be answered.
Vermont goes first
The only major U.S. utility-owned, behind-the-meter (BTM) battery storage is the Green Mountain Power (GMP) pilot project, according to GTM Research Energy Storage Analyst Brett Simon. GMP, the dominant Vermont electricity provider, is installing 2,000 behind-the-meter Tesla Powerwalls that will provide dispatchable energy and other grid services to New England’s wholesale electricity markets. Customers pay a one-time $1,300 fee or a monthly $15 fee to participate.