New York — A member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that the agency has all the information it needs to issue a long-awaited order that allows aggregated distributed energy resources such as solar arrays and batteries to participate in wholesale power markets.
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The distributed energy resource, or DER, proceeding dates all the way back to November 2016, when FERC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (FERC docket AD16-20, RM16-23) to remove barriers to electric storage resources' participation at the wholesale level.
In February 2018, FERC issued a final rule that it later reaffirmed that dealt with energy storage resources, but it punted on action to similarly lift barriers to participation for DER aggregations. Those aggregations could potentially include any combination of batteries, solar installations and demand response resources spread across multiple sites. In explaining the delay, FERC said more information was needed to bolster the record in the DER proceeding and scheduled a technical conference that concluded in April 2018.
More than a year later, regional transmission organizations and independent system operators responded in October 2019 to subsequent requests for additional data from FERC staff.
"In my view, I believe we should be ready to go," Democratic Commissioner Richard Glick said February 12 in remarks at the Energy Storage Association's annual policy forum in Washington. "I don't think there's any additional information we need."
FERC has already approved tariff language for two grid operators that allow aggregated DERs to participate in wholesale markets.
In June 2016, the commission signed off on rules proposed by the California ISO allowing at least 0.5 MW of distributed energy resources to offer into CAISO's markets as a single resource. And in January, FERC cleared new tariff language proposed by the New York ISO that allows a market participant to aggregate facilities to form a single entity to participate in the NYISO's energy, ancillary services and installed capacity markets.
However, aggregated DERs still face barriers across the rest of the nation's independent system operators and regional transmission organizations. Those obstacles are generally related to the size of aggregated resources, the types of energy markets they can access, and whether they can inject energy into the grid.
In his February 12 remarks, Glick added that FERC needs to focus on ensuring that energy storage resources, including DERs, can participate in regional energy markets in addition to ancillary service markets.
Noting that states' clean energy policies are expected to add a huge amount of renewable resources to the grid, Glick emphasized that energy storage and DERs will play an increasingly important role if the nation fails to build enough related transmission.
"Especially if we don't build enough transmission as we need to build, the only way to deal with this extra intermittency is through a lot more storage," the commissioner said.