Thermal Energy Storage Gets a Boost from California Legislature
The legislature finds and declares: "Reducing peak load of, and implementing load control for residential and commercial air-conditioning systems by the state's electrical corporations can achieve a significant reduction of California's peak electricity demand in a cost-effective manner." SB 1790, 2002.
In addition, three pieces of energy legislation favoring thermal storage were signed into law by California Governor Davis. A common thread in all the new legislation is an emphasis on public benefits for Californians, including improved reliability of electrical supplies, reduction in overall energy costs, new job creation and positive environmental impacts.
Results from the 2002 California Legislative agenda underline the optimistic outlook voiced by members of the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute's (ARI) Thermal Storage Equipment Product Section. Indeed, all of the legislation supported by ARI's Thermal Storage Section aimed at shifting peak electrical loads and implementation of real-time metering for air-conditioning systems was signed into law.
Senate Bill 1790 (Senator Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey), explains the industry's optimism, stating that, "It is the intent of the Legislature that the state establish cost-effective load control programs for residential and commercial air-conditioning systems". The new law states that, "The legislature finds and declares" that, "Reducing peak load of, and implementing load control for residential and commercial air-conditioning systems by the state's electrical corporations can achieve a significant reduction of California's peak electricity demand in a cost-effective manner." SB 1790 provides for development of air-conditioning load control programs as part of electrical service offerings as means of "contributing to the adequacy of the electricity supply and to help customers in reducing their electric bills".
Senate Bill 1976 (Senator Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch), directs the Public Utilities Commission to report back to the Governor and Legislature no later than March 31, 2003 regarding real-time pricing and metering. The logic of SB 1976 is clearly in line with the thermal storage industry noting that, "Californians can significantly increase the reliability of the electricity system and reduce the level of wholesale electricity prices by reducing electricity usage at peak times." Recognizing the need for new business and jobs in the State, SB 1976 points out that, "Real-time pricing integrates information technology into the energy business and creates new markets for communications, micro electronics and information."
Looking forward, Senate Bill 1389 (also Senator Bowen) calls for an integrated energy policy with public interest strategies including load management and reduction of statewide greenhouse gas emissions. ARI's Thermal Energy Storage Section members have long touted the cost effective and positive impacts of the technology on the State's economy, energy system reliability and environment. Indeed, all of those facts were reported in a 1996 California Energy Commission Report (P500-95-005) which marked the beginning of an effort by the industry toward quantifying benefits and gaining favorable rates and meters necessary to provide a high return on investment to thermal storage customers. California legislation and bonds light the path forward in California and, in the view of thermal storage proponents, suggest a model for legislation in other states.