There’s no question that demand for residential and commercial energy storage will continue to grow. And with heavyweight tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk in the picture, it’s equally certain that battery technologies will advance rapidly and the capital investment cost of this technology will be more widely accepted. I’m looking forward to chairing a panel discussion on the topic of utility applications for energy storage at the 2016 IEEE PES T&D Conference.

By now you’re probably familiar with the energy storage mandate in California (Assembly Bill 2514). The State Legislature has directed the state’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs) — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — to add a total of 1.325 gigawatts (GW) of storage to their systems by 2020. These expected projects are likely to include a significant amount of battery storage. In Texas, Oncor has said it’s interested in procuring 5 GW of energy storage to deploy throughout its service territory.

These aren’t simple issues. Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) is debating policy with PJM and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) over whether energy storage should be classified as “generation, transmission or distribution.” It’s possible that storage may ultimately land in a fourth category, as a hybrid of all three. But the key question for utilities is: How will storage providers be assessed for an equitable share of distribution system costs?

If you’ll be in Dallas for the conference, I hope you’ll find some time to join our panel at 3:15 p.m. on May 4. Utility experts from the California IOUs, Oncor and ComEd will join me to discuss policies, planning models and economic impacts of third-party and utility-owned energy storage deployment.

There’s sure to be a lot of great discussion on this topic at this year’s IEEE and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Be sure to stop by booth #1527 to discuss.

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With extensive experience in industry policy and advanced technologies applied throughout North America, Mike Beehler is a Vice President at Burns & McDonnell.