My name is Caroline Heilbrun, and I am from Fairfax Station, Virginia. I hail from a region of the state that is a hotbed for renewable technology- Siemens and AES (wind turbines, battery storage respectively) are headquartered here in Northern Virginia. Microsoft, CenturyLink, and Amazon also host their renewable-powered data centers here. As a result of attracting these big corporations, our region’s economy has flourished, and I know the situation is similar in the southern part of the state.
I believe that setting a storage target in Virginia’s Energy Plan will provide myriad benefits for Virginia’s power grid, these large corporations, utilities, and ratepayers. Many other states have set storage targets (New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey), and other states are likely to follow suit (Colorado, Arizona). A target will spur investments in research and development for cheaper, more efficient, and more durable batteries while attracting battery companies to Virginia. Second, if a corporation such as Microsoft co-located their existing battery systems with their renewable arrays for data centers, the stored energy from unused midday generation could replace the need, and the cost, for new gas-fired peaker plants during peak hours. This would stabilize the grid and reduce rates, since consumers wouldn’t have to pay for new plants. As a bonus, the corporations with batteries and data centers could receive a value stream from providing these grid services and get more usage out of their batteries and renewable arrays. Therefore, with the ripple effect of a storage target, they would be even more likely to select Virginia as a site for their data centers and bring business to all parts of the state- rural and urban.