Community storage gains key support

Electric trade associations, environmental advocates, utilities and manufacturers unite to pursue valuable storage capability

Energy and environmental stakeholders are uniting around “community storage” to help solve the electric industry’s energy storage challenge. The Community Storage Initiative announced the support of key industry groups, including the nation’s utility trade associations, environmental groups, manufacturers and more than a dozen individual utilities.

Community storage refers to a spectrum of utility-sponsored programs that aggregate electric storage resources available throughout the community, such as water heaters and electric vehicles, to improve the efficiency of electric energy services for consumers. Community storage programs offer the industry practical steps to rapidly increase the amount of energy storage available, and also integrate more renewable resources.

Storage water heater

The nation’s 50 million residential electric water heaters collectively represent a significant – and vastly underutilized – energy storage resource capable of leveraging substantial environmental and cost benefits according to new research commissioned by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Great River Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Peak Load Management Alliance.

Initiative members are already implementing community storage programs. Through the Community Storage Initiative, they will be working together to evolve those programs.

Like community solar, community storage enables consumers and utilities to share the system-wide benefits of energy storage — environmental benefits, lower costs and grid optimization — in communities large and small across the country. Such programs maximize the value of distributed energy resources, many of which are already available to participate in energy storage programs through simple retrofits and program design.

The Initiative will be chaired by Great River Energy Member Services and Marketing Director Gary Connett, and will be sponsored by the following: National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), American Public Power Association (APPA), Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Peak Load Management Alliance (PLMA).

A full list of supporters and brief descriptions of their community storage efforts is available at communitystorageinitiative.com.

Initiative members are conducting a range of innovative community storage programs, including grid-interactive water heating, electric vehicle charging, grid-interactive space heating, ice storage technology, and residential battery storage.

Research conducted by The Brattle Group and sponsored by the Community Storage Initiative’s founding members recognized that the nation’s 50 million residential electric water heaters collectively represent a significant and vastly underutilized energy storage resource capable of leveraging substantial environmental and cost benefits.