Electric cooperatives in the Lone Star State may soon pursue battery storage without worry of bumping into state regulations.

The Texas Legislature has passed a law, effective Sept. 1, affirming that electric co-ops can install, own and operate battery energy storage systems.

Investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities regulated by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, however, remain prohibited from possessing battery systems.

“The PUC requested the legislature to clarify this issue because the commission believed this was a gray area and co-ops may not have known they had the right to do so,” said Curtis Trivitt, senior vice president for energy services at CoServ, the Corinth-based electric and gas cooperative that serves more than 230,000 meters in North Texas.

“The legislation removes any ambiguity around rules that co-ops may have had regarding being able to move forward with storage when it does become economical.”

Battery energy storage systems can be employed to help keep electricity reliable and affordable during outages or transmission congestion or to balance intermittent renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar.

Utility-scale storage is minimal in Texas now, but analysts expect use of the technology to expand as economic and technical obstacles are overcome.

“Within a few years it may become very economical for cooperatives to own and operate battery storage,” said Gary Franzen, CoServ’s director of energy engineering. “Right now, it makes sense only in specific situations. That likely will change as the cost of storage continues to fall.”

CoServ does not have any battery storage but expects to study the feasibility of such a system soon.

Pedernales Electric Cooperative, the nation’s largest electric co-op, is preparing to install its first-ever battery energy storage system in Johnson City, Texas. The project’s capacity is expected to be 2.25 megawatts of power and 4.5 megawatt-hours of storage.