Californian bill aims to foster distributed energy

The Governor of the State of California Jerry Brown has signed a wide-ranging bill aimed at improving the state’s clean energy infrastructure.

The Public/Natural Resources trailer bill came into law this week and Senate Bill 861 is designed to add impetus to the California state government’s pioneering energy storage initiatives, which extend down from utility-scale energy storage mandates to incentives for small- and medium-sized companies to deploy intelligent solutions.

The bill enables annual funding of $83 million of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), allocating a total $415 million in state funds to assure its operation through 2019. Run by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), SGIP provides “rebates for qualifying distributed energy systems installed on the customer-side of the utility meter.”

In addition to wind turbines, waste heat-to-power systems, pressure reduction turbines, internal combustion engines, micro turbines and fuel cells, qualifying SGIP technologies also include advanced energy storage systems.

The SGIP now plays a key role in realizing the goals set out in California’s Assembly Bill 2514 (AB 2514), “landmark legislation that will create a smarter, cleaner electric grid, increase the use of renewable energy, save Californians money by avoiding costly new power plants, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollutants through the use of energy storage technologies by utility companies.”

Whereas AB 2514 focuses on the energy storage at utility scale, SGIP is focused on fostering adoption of distributed energy systems, including intelligent energy storage solutions.

SGIP received more rebate requests for energy storage systems ($53 million or 34 percent of the total) than any other eligible distributed energy technology over the course of 2012, according to CPUC’s latest, publicly released SGIP Budget Review. SGIP requests for combined heat-and-power (CHP) fuel cells followed a close second with $52 million (33 percent of total SGIP requests).

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