Grid storage is back in Congress, thanks to the efforts of three U.S. senators who are mighty tired of “wait and see.” We talk to one industry veteran about STORAGE 2010.
You're going to be hearing those words with increasing frequency in the weeks and months to come.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with David Nemtzow, Ice Energy's new vice president and chief policy officer, about the Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2010 Act (S. 3617) introduced last week by U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). You may remember that Senator Wyden introduced S. 1091, The STORAGE Act, in Congress last session-S. 3617 is a revision of the earlier Act.
Simply put, STORAGE 2010 would offer up to $1.5 billion in tax credits to storage projects connected to the U.S. electric grid. The legislation offers an investment tax credit for three categories of energy storage facilities that temporarily store energy for delivery or use at a later time. It will also provide tax credits to businesses and homeowners who install energy storage on their own property to help serve their own energy needs more efficiently or capture energy from on-site renewable energy generation. (A few examples: smart grid devices that manage the charging and storage of the electricity from plug-in electric vehicles, or thermal cooling systems that make ice at night when electricity is cheaper, and use the ice to cool the building during the day.)
The Act provides for a 20 percent investment tax credit of up to $30 million for storage systems connected to the grid (otherwise known as "bulk" storage systems), with a total allocation of $1.5 billion, capped on a per-project basis at $30 million. It also provides a 30 percent investment tax credit of up to $1 million per project to businesses, with an equal percentage to homeowners, for on-site storage projects ("distributed" and "residential"). And it's technology-neutral, to boot.
Obviously, Nemtzow is pleased with the proposed legislation, as it brings grid storage to the forefront and offers new opportunities for his company. But I was also interested in his perspective as a 25-year veteran of utility regulation, energy policy and management.
A bit of history is in order here. Nemtzow's resume is an envious one for those interested in energy policy and the regulatory maze in which it exists. He was president and CEO of the Alliance to Save Energy for a decade, and director-general (CEO) of the Department of Energy, U