Wyden Taps Staffer to Partner with DOE on Critical New Report

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tapped a member of his staff to coordinate with the Energy Department on implementing a key report the agency released  on the challenges facing the energy storage market.

Dave Berick, the Senate committee’s chief investigator, will serve as the point person to work with DOE, Wyden said at a nominations hearing today.

“Energy storage is exactly the kind of program that is going to take this departmentwide approach,” Wyden said. “[Berick] is going to be the person responsible to working with you to get this plan implemented. He’s going to be all over this to get this implemented.”

Wyden, whose Pacific Northwest state balances a large amount of wind, has emphasized the importance of energy storage — batteries, flywheel technology, compressed air and pumped hydro — as key to integrating renewable energy onto the grid, filling the gaps when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Storage technologies can also provide important grid services such as backup power and extra power at times of significant demand, known as peak load, instead of relying on starting up natural gas power plants.

DOE found energy storage will be critical to tackling climate change and supporting renewables, enhancing efficiency and resiliency. The United States has about 24.6 gigawatts of storage, 95 percent of which is pumped hydro, but Europe and Japan have much higher amounts of storage, according to the report.

Wyden has for years attempted to push through legislation to bolster the energy storage industry. In May, he reintroduced the same bipartisan language to provide a 20 percent investment tax credit for large “grid-connected systems” and a 30 percent investment tax credit for on-site storage for residential and small commercial businesses.