Energy Storage for Social Equity Initiative 

An innovative technical assistance and technology deployment program advancing community prosperity, well-being, and resilience

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The Energy Storage for Social Equity (ES4SE) Initiative, sponsored by the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Energy Storage Program, is a program by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Sandia National Laboratories. ES4SE is designed to empower urban, rural, tribal, and indigenous disadvantaged communities to consider energy storage technologies and applications as a viable path toward community prosperity, well-being, and resilience. 

The primary goal is to support disadvantaged communities affected by unreliable and expensive energy systems. Through this program, eligible communities have access to direct non-financial technical assistance and potential support for new energy storage project development and deployment.    

The ES4SE is unique in several ways:  

  • Easy to access.  No technology experience is required. First, communities fill out an interest form. Then, communities eligible to apply can work directly with a member of our team to fill out a more complete – yet easy and brief – application.  
  • Eligibility is linked to need.  This program is available for communities that do not usually have access or benefit from federal programs. 

  • Focus on the problem with many possible solutions.  Communities will have support from national laboratories in understanding their energy challenges and co-developing a set of potential solutions and responses.   

  • Workforce and equity are part of the assistance.  All communities will have an analysis of the relationship between the electricity system and socioeconomic conditions, as well as stakeholder identification and relationship development. 

  • Community of communities.  Communities will also be connected to one another through this program. 

  • Direct connection to future project funding.  Communities will have an opportunity to continue in the program leading to direct investment for grid improvements. 

ES4SE will have two phases: 

Why Energy Storage?  

Energy storage is a technology with several equity-enabling characteristics. Energy storage systems are unique because they can be located anywhere in the electrical system: in homes and other properties, in neighborhoods, at substations, and with power plants. The locational flexibility, diverse applications, and uses of storage in the energy transition provide a practical starting point to imagine how technology can be thoughtfully applied to address inequities in the electrical system. 

These considerations are critical when considering technology and grid futures—electrification, distributed energy, decarbonization and climate change, and resilience. How do grid investments and modernization affect people? How do these investments accommodate the different ways that people interact with the energy system? Like the energy vulnerable who depend on reliable electricity for their well-being; communities disproportionately affected by past and current energy system operation; and communities that may not benefit from future proposed investments? 

Energy storage systems can be designed and deployed to address these challenges and support a more reliable electric service delivery at the local level. Storage can strategically integrate with peaking facilities to reduce emissions, both greenhouse gas emissions and health-impacting pollutants. Peaker plants tend to be located near disadvantaged communities exacerbating the health and environmental burden borne by these vulnerable populations. Energy storage systems can facilitate the retirement and decommissioning of aging facilities in a way that considers ratepayers in the replacement process. 


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Phone: 509-372-4487