Publication Release and Event: Harnessing the Power of Energy Storage in Boston’s Commercial Buildings

Energy storage has come to the attention of building owners around the country because of the cost savings it delivers, as well as the range of services and benefits it can provide to facilities and the broader electric grid. Energy storage deployment has grown exponentially in the United States over the past several years. Continued rapid growth is anticipated as the market is estimated to grow to nine times its current size over the next five years.[1] Storage deployment has been driven by policies, incentives, and cost declines for certain battery chemistries. Many businesses are benefiting from this growth, in terms of both cost savings and energy resiliency.

Massachusetts is on the verge of capturing the benefits of storage as the factors that have allowed California and New York to support vibrant storage market growth are now—or will soon be—present in Massachusetts. Both California and New York have high commercial demand charges; those within metro Boston can be equally high and make up most of a building’s electric bill. A common metric used to determine the cost-effectiveness of battery energy storage for demand-charge management is $15/kilowatt (kW). In Boston, demand charges can often exceed this number. [2],[3],[4]

States with a significant number of storage projects have incentives and supportive policies at the state and/or utility level. Massachusetts is currently preparing to launch several such policies and incentives. Under the new Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) solar incentive program, expected to launch in the summer of 2018, solar PV paired with energy storage will receive a larger incentive than solar alone.[5] In addition, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has approved a series of demand-management pilots proposed by Eversource, which will provide direct incentives to battery and thermal storage systems that provide demand-management support to the electricity distribution system.[6]

At the state level, the Energy Storage Initiative created by Governor Baker’s administration has established a policy target of 200 MWh of storage by 2020. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is investigating the potential to meet this target through the state’s Alternative Portfolio Standard, which would provide performance-based incentives.[7]The state has also supported storage deployments through the Community Clean Energy Resilience Initiative (CCERI) and the Advancing Commonwealth Energy Storage (ACES) programs. These policies and programs are an initial step in supporting energy storage deployment in the state.

Planning or assessing the feasibility of such projects can be challenging, however, due to the diversity of energy storage technologies and their functionalities or “use cases.”[1] The appropriate energy storage technology, project applications, and energy savings will be highly dependent on each facility’s energy use profile, utility rates (including demand charges), and the existence of on-site generation.

As facilitators of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission’s Commercial Real Estate Working Group, A Better City will be releasing a report, An Overview of Energy Storage Opportunities for Massachusetts Commercial Buildings that introduces the commercial sector to energy storage opportunities.  It provides an overview of energy storage history, types and terminology, services and benefits, technology options, environmental considerations, resilience considerations, incentives and support for project implementation, and market barriers and policy opportunities.

This report will be released at an event A Better City and the Boston Green Ribbon Commission is hosting on April 17th: from 3-6.30pm: Harnessing the Power of Energy Storage in Boston’s Commercial Buildings. The event will explore the economics, incentives, and use cases for energy storage in Greater Boston’s commercial buildings. It will include experts from the energy storage industry, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and current research on the innovative policy, technology, and financing for energy storage in our region.  It will conclude with a networking session with energy storage providers. 


Authored by: Yve Torrie, Director of Sustainability Programs

[1] “Use case” is the term used by the energy industry to describe the various ways energy storage can serve as host site or grid. The term “value-stacking” is used when an energy storage system can provide multiple use cases.

[1] GTM Research. December 2017. “U.S. Energy Storage Monitor, Year in Review Report: Executive Summary.” Available for download online:

[2] Eversource. 2018. “2018 Summary of Eastern Massachusetts Electric Rates for Greater Boston Service Area.” Available online:

[3] National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 2017. “Identifying Potential Markets for Behind-the-Meter Battery Energy Storage: A Survey of U.S. Demand Charges.” Available online:, p. 7.

[4] Clean Energy Group. 2017. “An Introduction to Demand Charges.” Available online:

[5] Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. 2018. “Development of the Massachusetts SMART Program.” Available online:

[6] Joint Utilities. December 2016. “Overview of Proposed/Approved Peak Demand Reduction Demonstration Projects.” Available online:

[7] Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 2018. “Energy Storage Initiative.” Available online:

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