Start a State Battery Association

A barrier to full-scale adoption of utility-scale batteries is a lack of understanding of the technology and the increased reliability and cost-efficiency batteries bring to the grid. There are several trade associations across the country aimed to spur the clean energy economy in their state. Establishing a utility-scale battery trade association in a state would help educate policymakers, foster strategic public-private relationships, and identify opportunities for growth for the industry in that state.

Several states have become leaders in energy storage by establishing  industry-based associations. For example, New York created NY Battery Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY BEST), which is funded through grants obtained from the federal Clean Air Interstate Rule. The California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA) has been instrumental in stimulating growth in the state’s utility-scale battery market. CESA advises the California utilities commission on technical details of this complicated industry, provides guidance to policymakers, educates the public, and offers networking opportunities for manufacturers within the state. CESA holds an annual meeting to identify ways to advance the ecosystem for energy storage within California. The organization also has working groups focused on energy storage issues. CESA was instrumental in creating demand for the California Public Utilities Commission to approve a mandate that requires the state’s three investor-owned utilities to add 1.325 GW of energy storage over the next ten years.

In order to send a clear market signal that states are committed to becoming leaders in the utility-scale battery sector, high-level state officials could champion the initiative to create a state battery association. The governor’s office could establish a utility-scale battery task force to obtain seed funding and identify and recruit potential founding members. Association founding members could then work with other state entities to identify and recruit new utility-scale battery companies and establish manufacturing hubs in the state. The association could eventually be member-funded. An easy way to accomplish this is for the Energy Storage Association to adopt the state’s cattery association as its state subsidiary, thus tapping into the national organization’s financial resources and vast expertise, as Texas has done. 

The association could collaborate with regulators and legislators to help them understand the complicated energy storage market and provide guidance on permitting requirements. The association could also disseminate information and data on existing projects to facilitate improvements throughout the industry, make market research available to the public, and identify market needs and opportunities. It could help growing state businesses connect and network with one another to identify gaps in the supply chain and recruit companies to fill those gaps. The association could advise the governor and economic development team regarding foreign direct investment opportunities. The association could catapult a given state onto the global stage as a serious and engaged player in the utility-scale battery industry.