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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has established an energy storage target of 1.325 GW for Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric by 2020, with installations required no later than by the end of 2024.

The decision will increase California's installed energy storage capacity sixfold from its current 35 MW (excluding large-scale pumped hydro storage), says the California Energy Storage Alliance (CESA).

According to the CPUC, the guiding principles of its decision are the optimization of the grid, including peak reduction, contribution to reliability needs or deferment of transmission and distribution upgrade investments; the integration of renewable energy; and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, per California's goals.

The commission's action, CESA reports, sets targets for California's investor-owned utilities and direct access providers to procure a specified amount of energy storage every two years through 2020, with targets increasing with each solicitation. Some energy storage facilities are expected to come into service as early as 2015, the advocacy group adds.

The CPUC says its decision directs the utilities to file separate procurement applications containing a proposal for their first energy storage procurement period by March 1, 2014.

The decision also establishes a target for community choice aggregators and electric service providers to procure energy storage equal to 1% of their annual 2020 peak load by 2020, with installation no later than 2024, the CPUC states.

"Storage is a game changer that can help people manage their energy use and expand the capacity of renewable resources to provide power to homes and businesses," says Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval. "This decision will spur investment and innovation in energy storage and help Californians unleash their creative and economic power."

This multi-stakeholder process and final decision were set in motion by A.B.2514 (Skinner), which became law in 2010, CESA notes. According to the organization, under A.B.2514, the CPUC was required to open a proceeding to consider developing energy storage procurement targets for California utilities to integrate grid-scale storage into the state's electrical power system if determined to be viable and cost-effective.

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