The California Independent System Operator Corp. (ISO) Board of Governors waved the starting flag last week to enable new types of storage resources, such as batteries and flywheels, to provide reserves for the power grid. The resources offer flexibility and fast on/off capabilities that are expected to provide significant operational benefits.

The ISO calls the new service "regulation energy management" and believes it will open up opportunities for storage as well as demand response to become a larger participant in the ancillary services market that makes up ISO operating reserves. Both demand response and storage are emerging quickly as key components in integrating wind and solar output that can fluctuate depending upon weather conditions.

"The integration of renewable resources introduces new requirements to reliably manage the grid," said ISO President and CEO Yakout Mansour. "Our Five-Year Strategic Plan points out that storage technologies bring unique operational solutions to grid management as a tool for helping balance renewables on the system. We are ready to gain valuable operational experience with this potentially versatile resource."

An estimated 5-10 megawatts of storage is expected to begin bidding into the ISO market once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the required tariff changes and software modifications are made. The ISO will be closely monitoring the performance of these new technologies and adapt market rules as necessary to maximize the benefits they provide.