A startup with a basic energy storage technology has just hit a significant project milestone. And the technology in no way involves batteries or novel electrochemistries. ARES (Advanced Rail Energy Storage) was just granted a right-of-way lease by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its proposed 50-megawatt/12.5-megawatt-hour commercial-scale, gravity-based rail energy storage project. The project will serve as a merchant ancillary-service provider connected to the Valley Electric Association (VEA) and responsive to commands from the regional transmission operator, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). VEA is in the CAISO balancing area.