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Largest energy storage system in Mass. launched as solar plus storage trend continues

Highlights

3 MW/6 MWh system connected to solar farm with 20-year PPA

Renewables plus storage replacing fossil-fueled plants

New York — One of first states to enact an energy storage target, Massachusetts, received its largest utility-scale energy storage system Tuesday when ENGIE and Holyoke Gas & Electric launched a 3 MW/6 MWh system connected to a solar farm near Boston.

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Located adjacent to the former 136-MW Mt. Tom oil- and coal-fired power plant 90 miles west of Boston in Holyoke, Massachusetts, the battery energy storage system was connected to a 5.8-MW community solar PV project.

ENGIE North America supplies power from the solar plant to local utility Holyoke Gas & Electric under a 20-year power purchase agreement, ENGIE Storage spokeswoman Anne Smith said in an email Tuesday.

As battery costs decline and policies are enacted to encourage energy storage development, companies are increasingly interested in the technology, particularly when it can be paired with generation resources allowing the flow of power to be more efficiently managed.

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ENGIE is working on additional energy storage projects in the region. "Massachusetts is primed for growth in the energy storage market thanks to their progressive energy policy," Smith said.

POLICY DRIVERS

Utilities in the state are required to procure 200 MWh of energy storage by 2020. Massachusetts also has a goal to generate 50% percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2035.

"ISO NE is changing its market rules following the [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] Order 841," Felix Maire, senior analyst with S&P Global Platts Analytics, said in an email Tuesday. "This will define the extent to which the Mt. Tom solar farm can derive revenues from ancillary services and the forward capacity market."

FERC Order 841 requires ISOs to establish or enhance existing market rules in order facilitate wider electric storage resource participation in ISO-administered markets. The Order 841 compliance filing deadline is December 3.

The Mt. Tom solar plus storage system will be used to reduce peak demand on HG&E's distribution grid, according to a statement. Rising demand-based costs throughout the New England market have been accounting for a large portion of energy costs, which has created pressure to reduce peak energy usage, according to the statement.

"This project is the perfect illustration of energy transformation in action - affordable, clean energy replacing traditional fossil fuel power generation," Frank Demaille, ENGIE North America president and CEO, said in the statement.

BROADER TREND

The switch from older fossil-fueled power plants to renewable energy sources, often coupled with storage, is part of a wider trend among utilities and power generators. Last week, Northern Indiana Public Service Company said it would retire most of its coal-fired generation by the end of 2023 and the remainder by 2028.

"Technology and market changes continue to transform the energy industry, opening more competitive options, and it's the primary driver of the changes being considered for our system," Violet Sistovaris, NiSource executive vice president and Nipsco president, said in a statement. "Retiring our aging coal fleet sooner will cost substantially less compared to our original plans for extending retirements over a longer duration."

Nipsco's latest analysis, based on responses to a request for power supply proposals issued in April, indicate that a combination of wind, solar and battery storage would likely replace most of that lost capacity.

"Batteries account for 90% of the new storage additions in the US since 2010," Maire said. Policies in California, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts will help drive over 5 GW of utility-scale battery deployments by 2022 in the US, he said.

-- Jared Anderson, jared.anderson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Annie Siebert, newsdesk@spglobal.com