A new bill introduced in the Senate seeks to encourage the development of renewable power and lower consumer costs through the deployment of energy storage technologies.

The Storage Technology for Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2013 (STORAGE) introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Susan Collins, (R-Maine), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Angus King (I-Maine) offers investment tax credits for three categories of energy storage facilities that temporarily store energy for delivery or use at a later time. Pumped hydro, compressed air, batteries, flywheels, thermal storage, as well as smart grid–enabled plug-in electric vehicles are all eligible technologies.

Wyden and Collins introduced a previous version of the bill in the last Congress. As in the 2011 version of the bill, the STORAGE Act of 2013 (S. 1030) offers a 30% investment tax credit to businesses for the use of technologies that can store energy during non-peak hours and distribute it to meet peak electricity demand.

The latest version of the bill lowers the qualifying threshold to encourage small businesses to take advantage of on-site storage technologies. The bill also provides a 30% tax credit to homeowners who install energy storage on their property to help serve their own energy needs efficiently or capture energy from on-site renewable energy generation.

The STORAGE Act also provides a 20% investment tax credit of up to $40 million per project for grid-scale storage systems. The total amount available for these projects is capped at $1.5 billion.

One change from last year’s version of the bill is that the minimum size for storage systems to be eligible for this credit is now 5 kWh, whereas it was 20 kWh before. "20 kWh is a reasonable size for industrial energy consumers and big-box stores, but a 5 kWh limit is a size that makes sense for small businesses. This change will allow small businesses to participate in pioneering storage on the grid, and will incentivize storage companies to create leasing models for residential users. Leasing models are proving very successful at increasing grid-connected residential solar, and this credit will open up a whole new market for storage to follow suit," the senators said.

"The STORAGE Act does not pick winners or losers in terms of storage technology or the source of energy stored, and instead allows the market to decide which technologies are best suited to meet energy needs," they added.

Sources: POWERnews, energy.senate.gov