A couple of weeks ago, Matt Wald wrote this story for the NYT. Here is how the story begins:
Solar power is growing so fast in California — with installations by customers increasing tenfold since 2006 — that it is turning the state’s power system upside down.In a twist that is being closely watched by power companies around the country, California utilities will install massive banks of batteries and other devices to store the power surplus created by solar panels in the afternoon, when the sun’s rays are strong.
The relatively new idea of using batteries — which could be bundled in packs, each about the size of an 18-wheel truck trailer — to store electricity during the day and discharge it in the evening is aimed at coping with rapid changes in supply and demand. The expense of the batteries, possibly in the billions of dollars for California, has limited their use.
But booming solar power in California has changed the equation and made the California Public Utilities Commission take a different path.
At the end of October, the commission ordered the utility companies it regulates to install some form of energy storage equipment — exactly what was not specified — in the first mandate of its kind in the country.