Midwest Energy Storage Summit Brings Stakeholders Together

The University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, along with the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance, hosted the Midwest Energy Storage Summit on September 15, 2017. The event facilitated important discussions around working together to adapt as the energy industry evolves. The organization of this event demonstrated the Midwest will not be left behind in the march toward grid modernization. Instead, the Midwest will come together to stay ahead of the game. Since the FERC NOPR on Energy Storage and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) back in November 2016, it became quite clear that energy storage will continue to be a significant factor driving grid transformation. 
A wide variety of speakers at the Summit included regulators, electric utilities, business leaders, policy experts, researchers, and more.  Several common themes arose throughout the sessions including:

  • Energy storage provides several grid benefits to different stakeholders, and it’s important to leverage multi-stakeholder benefit streams for projects.  
  • As energy storage and Distributed Energy Resources increase in deployment, these resources should be allowed to participate in both wholesale and retail markets. 
  • What is the best regulatory model to use for incorporating energy storage and microgrids into the resource mix? 

The Midwest Energy Storage Summit also highlighted many examples of successfully deployed projects in this region. These successful projects continue to increase excitement about the possibilities for the future energy storage and DERs.  Additionally, there was a considerable amount of discussion around the role of microgrids and the value of the resiliency they bring. A few decades ago, one-directional power flow was considered sacrosanct. Now, with the exception of those with lingering suspicions, DERs and microgrids are quickly transforming the industry in profound ways. This brings us to the key take-away from this conference being the purpose of coming together to jointly modernize the grid. At the end of the Summit, it was easy to tell that participants from all walks of life were in general agreement on the need to take steps to prepare for the future. This need is underscored by the fact that legacy energy systems are transitioning into modern and smarter networks in which energy storage and DERs are playing a big role in ensuring flexibility, reliability, and resiliency.
Having this Summit take place in our own backyard is quite exciting for us at OATI given our drive for grid modernization. Our excitement is based on the fact that we provide solutions to maximize resiliency and economic benefits of energy storage, distributed energy resources, and microgrid operations.  We’re here to help with solutions for energy producers and consumers to embrace the changes of this evolving energy landscape. Thanks again to the Energy Transition Lab and the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance for hosting such an event!