Virtual Peaker had the distinct pleasure to talk recently with Ani Backa, U.S. Director, Utilities, Regulatory, and Legislative Initiatives at Sonnen / eServices sonnen global, about the outlook for distributed energy resources.
Ani acknowledged that COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the landscape and that her responses are driven by two pandemic-related themes: uncertainty, and no end date.
Virtual Peaker: You run regulatory for sonnen. What are the key regulatory trends that you think utilities and utility stakeholders need to watch out for?
Ani Backa, sonnen:
I devise the regulatory and legislative strategy in the North American market for sonnen. But with COVID, your question may be difficult to answer until the veil of uncertainty is lifted.
On the legislative end, I think what we have witnessed is the government trying to grapple with the need to infuse cash into the economy and decide where we ought to spend the stimulus dollars, with a need for consensus being more crucial than ever.
The battery storage industry employs more than 60,000 professionals, according to the 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. New and grid energy storage systems account for approximately $1 billion annually in economic activity.
The stimulus bill failed to include provisions that would have assisted the renewable energy space to maintain pace and mitigate the devastating effects of project and supply chain delays on jobs and entire DER businesses. I am hopeful that we will get to a stage in the next stimulus/relief bills where these concerns as well as proposals by the energy storage industry will be included and embraced.
Ani Backa is the US Director of Regulatory Strategy and Utility Initiatives at sonnen, where she leads sonnen's US regulatory strategy and utility strategic partnerships. A senior renewable energy attorney by vocation, prior to joining sonnen, Ani managed business and government affairs for Xcel Energy, one of the largest and most progressive Investor Owned Utilities(IOUs) in the US. Ani's experience combines in-depth understanding of micro and macro market and technology applications in the residential arena, including residential battery storage advanced technologies such as sonnen, and to-market successful platforms and utility strategic partnerships.