Public Service Company of Colorado on May 1 filed with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission an application requesting that the commission approve the company’s proposed Community Resiliency Initiative, which would provide up to 15 MW of company owned energy storage systems to enhance the safety and security of designated community resiliency centers and select infrastructure.
The proposed initiative sets forth the programmatic framework for the development and construction of community based energy storage system projects that would benefit customers through the provision of important safety and reliability benefits for communities, while simultaneously expanding the integration and utilization of battery technology on the system, the company said.
The company noted that it developed the initiative in alignment with the state’s Energy Storage Procurement Act – HB 18-1270 – enacted in 2018, which allows investor-owned electric utilities to file applications for rate-based energy storage systems of up to 15 MW of capacity by May 1, 2019.
Further discussing HB 18-1270, the company noted that the Colorado General Assembly last year set out to “explore the use of energy storage systems in Colorado, and to integrate into the planning process mechanisms for the procurement of energy storage systems by Colorado’s electric utilities through evaluation and procurement methodologies.”
The Legislature explicitly codified the principle that it is in the public interest to allow investor-owned utilities to leverage energy storage systems to reduce system costs, support diversification of energy generation resources, as well as enhance grid safety and reliability.
The company added that its initiative fulfills the intent of the law by using the operational resources of the company to develop targeted, community based projects that would benefit customers while increasing resource diversity on the company’s system, as well as enhancing grid safety, reliability, and resiliency.
Public Service added: “The concept of community resiliency is becoming more relevant as, across the country, Americans seek to navigate the risks posed by extreme weather events or other disruptions. Many communities are establishing ‘resiliency centers’ to maintain stable functions during and immediately following a major or extreme weather event.”
Such centers are typically existing structures, services, and/or facilities considered crucial to the community, the company said, adding that along with the provision of security, food, shelter, and water, a key aspect of community resiliency is a stable and secure power supply. Utility owned energy storage systems – such as those that would be acquired under the company’s initiative – are an effective way to ensure Colorado citizens remain secure in the face of emergency situations, the company said.
Public Service said that benefits associated with its initiative include supporting the company’s clean energy transition through the integration of distributed energy storage, as well as providing clean energy jobs to the Colorado workforce. The company noted that it and the Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition (RMELC)/Colorado Building Construction Trades Council (CBCTC) would work together to develop a labor plan for the projects developed under the initiative.
Public Service said that it intends to identify energy storage system projects to pursue as part of the initiative and issue a request for proposals (RFP) to identify construction partners this summer, with a goal of completing the RFP process by the fall.
In direct testimony filed with the application, Charles Gouin, business technology consultant for Xcel Energy’s (NYSE:XEL) Xcel Energy Services Inc., said that throughout the summer, Public Service would work with interested community partners to identify and select projects that meet the initiative’s objectives.
Once the projects have been identified, the company would issue the RFP to firms that have demonstrated successful construction and deployment of energy storage systems and microgrids. By Dec. 16, Public Service proposes to supplement the record with supplemental direct testimony and relevant additional information to bring forward the details of the specific projects that would be part of the initiative and the results of the RFP, Gouin added.
In providing examples of the types of community based projects that the company is considering, Gouin said that the company has been in discussions with several community partners who have expressed an interest in developing community resiliency projects, including the Denver International Airport, National Western Center (NWC), Summit County’s Office of Emergency Management, and Denver Rescue Mission.
The NWC project, for instance, would involve working with the City and County of Denver and the National Western Center Authority to establish a community resiliency microgrid system to provide backup power to critical facilities on NWC’s campus. That, Gouin added, would enable storage systems, onsite solar, and back-up generators to power the NWC campus for an extended duration grid outage in the event of an emergency or disaster.
Public Service would incur costs of the energy storage systems and associated infrastructure including switches, transformers, interconnection equipment, communications and operation systems integration. Gouin also said that costs associated with the onsite generation and systems to control building loads would be incurred by the community partner.