Murkowski: Energy Storage is Key to a Cleaner, More Resilient and Affordable Grid

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to examine opportunities for the expanded deployment of grid-scale energy storage.

Murkowski opened by referencing the many hearings the committee has held this year focused on promoting innovation and clean energy technologies, including the policies needed to lower costs and increase deployment.

“We need to come together on practical and effective solutions that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. CCUS and nuclear energy will play a major role in these efforts, and so will the topic of today’s hearing, energy storage,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski went on to explain the tremendous environmental and economic opportunities presented by energy storage technologies, and the unique benefit that energy storage can provide to communities in Alaska.

“Energy storage resources present a win-win opportunity to make the grid cleaner, more resilient, and more affordable,” Murkowski continued. “We have seen how this works in Alaska, where Chugach Electric Association in Anchorage has deployed a flywheel and battery system to integrate fluctuating wind power and improve energy stability. Kodiak also uses batteries and flywheels to help smooth out its wind energy. And later this week, I will attend the ribbon-cutting for a new energy storage system in Cordova, where they will pair a battery with hydropower to lower energy costs and reduce their reliance on diesel fuel.”

Energy storage technologies convert captured electricity into another form of energy (such as kinetic or chemical) and later convert that energy back into electricity. These technologies can take many forms, but three of the most common are pumped hydropower, lithium-ion batteries, and flywheels. Energy storage technologies are particularly important to efforts to address the variability of renewable resources such as wind and solar power.  

Ben Fowke, President and CEO of Xcel Energy, testified that “storage has the potential to play an important role in a carbon-free electric grid.” Specifically, Fowke explained that “Grid-scale storage helps with renewable integration, allowing higher renewable energy levels than would otherwise be possible.” Kiran Kumaraswamy, Vice President of Market Applications at Fluence, highlighted the economic benefits of increased energy storage deployment, noting that the Energy Storage Association estimates that by 2025 energy storage “could provide more than $4 billion in operational cost savings, while creating more than 167,000 jobs.”

Fowke and Kumaraswamy were part of a distinguished panel of witnesses who testified before the committee, including Mitch Davidson, CEO of Brookfield Renewable; Dr. George Crabtree, Director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research at the Argonne National Laboratory; and Andy Ott, the President and CEO of PJM Interconnection.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.

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