Most people don’t really think about their electricity except when they pay their bill, or when the power goes out. Utility companies think about it all the time.
Utilities need to make sure they can provide continuous electricity to their customers at an affordable rate, while also managing their bottom line. This means planning for a mix of energy resources that maximize reliability and flexibility while minimizing costs and risks.
A recent assessment by PNNL energy experts evaluated how and to what extent utilities included energy storage technologies, particularly grid-scale batteries, in their integrated resource planning (IRP) process. In these periodic analyses, utilities forecast future needs and then model the costs and benefits of various resource types to build an optimal portfolio of resources for meeting those needs.
The PNNL assessment, prepared for the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity, showed that while some utilities took steps to improve their models—and identified cost-effective storage investments as a result—most utilities were still unsure how to model the costs and benefits of energy storage.
Twenty-four analysts from U.S. intelligence organizations met in August for a machine learning activity with PNNL researchers Nicole Nichols, Jeremiah Rounds, Lawrence Phillips, and Brian Kritzstein.