The Minnesota Rural Electric Association is joining the Community Storage Initiative, a national effort to solve the challenge of energy storage with technologies and resources that are already available.
For decades the electricity industry has been researching energy storage technologies, such as utility-scale batteries, that can stockpile electricity for later use. As the industry develops more renewable energy resources, which are intermittent, the need for energy storage is becoming more pressing.
Community storage refers to utility-sponsored programs that coordinate electric storage resources available throughout the community, such as water heaters and electric vehicles. Many utilities already offer consumers incentives to lower their usage during times of high demand; community storage enhances and builds on those programs. 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 electricity industry is undergoing a rapid transformation. By looking at resources available now and using them in a new way, we can find affordable solutions to some of our biggest challenges." said Darrick Moe, MREA President and CEO.
Founding supporters of the Initiative include a wide array of energy, environmental, and business interests including American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Peak Load Management Alliance, Rocky Mountain Institute, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, GARN, Ice Energy, Power Over Time, Steffes Corporation, and Vaughn Thermal Corporation. Individual utilities of all sizes have joined in support of the Initiative including Central Electric Cooperative of Pennsylvania, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Duke Energy, Federated Rural Electric, Great River Energy, Green Mountain Power, Horry Electric Cooperative, Inc., Itasca-Mantrap Electric Co-op, Jackson EMC, Marquette Board of Light and Power, McLeod Cooperative Power Association, Minnesota Rural Electric Association, North Itasca Electric Cooperative Inc., Northwestern Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Oconto Electric Co-op, Palmetto Electric Cooperative, South Central Electric Association, and Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric.
A list of the founding supporters and a brief descriptions of their community storage efforts is available on the Initiative’s website. 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.