The New York legislature passed a bill authorizing the Public Service Commission to set an energy storage target for 2030, when the state aims to draw half its power from renewable sources.

The PSC must choose the goal by the start of 2018. Then, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the Long Island Power Authority will start implementing a deployment program to meet the target. The program must consider both customer-sited and front-of-the-meter storage, evaluating its use for transmission upgrade deferral and peak load reduction in constrained areas.

If Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, which supports his renewable expansion goals, his state could become the fourth to pass such a target.

California kicked it all off in 2013 and now hosts much of the nation's growing storage industry. Oregon followed with its own target, and Massachusetts is expected to announce one by July. Nevada's Public Utility Commission has until October 2018 to decide if it wants to set a target.

The New York bill diverged from Massachusetts and Nevada in that it didn't stipulate a detailed cost-benefit analysis before moving ahead with a target. Massachusetts took from August through December to decide if a target made sense, and then had another six months to deliberate on what the target should be. Nevada has more than a year to decide if a target makes sense.

The New York bill wraps both those elements into a single six-month deadline. The state already has been quantifying the value of storage in its Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding, said Ravi Manghani, energy storage director at GTM Research. The question for state lawmakers wasn't if storage will benefit the grid, but how much would be best.

Setting the storage deadline for 2030 puts it a decade later than when California's wraps up. That timeline, though, synchronizes storage deployment with a 50 percent renewable energy target. It also allows for several more years of lithium-ion cost declines.

"The disadvantage would be if it lets the utilities and agencies push all their commitments to the back end of the timeframe and not invest in the first few years of the mandate," said Manghani.

To ensure steady growth and capture the benefits of learning by doing, the commission could set interim goals that build up to the 2030 finale.

Since the legislature delegated most of the details to the implementing agencies, a few crucial components remain unknown.

The bill does not spell out how utility ownership could play a role in the deployment, as Massachusetts' law did. Utility ownership opens up avenues for financing and deploying storage like traditional grid infrastructure, but raises questions of fairness in competitive markets.

The role of the New York ISO has not been described. Storage can play a role in the transmission grid, but NYISO currently has limited options for storage to participate in wholesale markets. The California ISO played an active role in that state's storage policy to ensure the technology benefits the transmission grid as well as electrical distribution and customer activities, Manghani said.

Like CAISO, NYISO is a single-state entity, which simplifies the process of updating rules based on one state's legislative agenda.

New York has been a leader in overhauling how the grid operates, but its storage market has barely left the ground. Outside of a 20-megawatt flywheel facility in Stephentown, the state has mostly seen small-scale demonstration projects through the REV Initiative or efforts like Consolidated Edison's substation upgrade deferral program. 

The state's storage pipeline includes 240 megawatts from 15 different projects, according to GTM Research.

Lithium-ion deployment has been slow in New York City, where the fire department has dealt with the technology on a case-by-case basis while finalizing safety requirements.

"It's going to take time, but once it happens, it will open the floodgates for behind-the-meter storage deployment in New York and elsewhere," Manghani said.

The New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium has called for 30 gigawatts of multi-hour storage by 2030.