Growing Behind the Meter Energy Storage in California

Project Summary

Updating the energy grid that currently relies on carbon based energy sources is central to addressing climate change in Los Angeles. The transition away from fossil fuels and towards Sustainable LA's goals of 100% renewable energy by 2050 requires the creation of better energy distribution and storage systems. This report examines the legal and regulatory roadblocks to facilitating behind-the-meter-storage in Investor Owned Utility properties. Behind-the-meter-storage combats the variability of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and allows for consistent energy retention and use. Distributed energy resources can also manage and reduce end-use consumption through self-supply and storage. This report informs researchers and policymakers about barriers to behind-the-meter storage and pinpoints urgent issues that should be targeted in order to grow this technology. Specifically, the findings support the use of new storage methods that are appropriate for customer use and able to provide multiple services to the utility and transmission systems and the final energy user. Distributed energy resources give customers agency over energy consumption, allowing them to reduce use or provide energy or other services to the grid. Grid resiliency and reliability is subsequently strengthened.  However, these new technologies present a drastic shift away from the traditional, centralized energy distribution models. With this guidance on policy and legal progress that are central to promote distributed energy resources, L.A. County can reformulate our energy systems and get all users of the energy grid involved.

Research Team

Sunny Tsou
School of Law

Advisor: Ann Carlson
School of Law

Progress and Results

Tsou showed that ending reliance on fossil fuels to power L.A.'s energy grid requires infrastructure that supports distributed generation and resources such as behind-the-meter-storage. These changes would better manage and decrease energy consumption and provide more versatility in services available. Indeed, the main benefit explained in the study is the ability of these technoligies to supply several services to the grid and consumer. The analysis of distributed energy resources showed that these new technologies challenge traditional models that rely on centralized power plants. Tsou noted that this threatens a loss of revenue for utility companies, but that distributed energy resources will persist. Current programs which reduce need for conventional energy and encourage people to cut usage during peak hours must be adapted to incentivize storage. Tsou made recommendations for policy and utility managers that would encourage behind-the-meter-storage and make it an economic as well as sustainable change. 

Other Information of Interest

Project photo of solar panels and wind turbine

Category

Award Year

2015