Published on June 20th, 2019 | by Kyle Field0
Tesla Powerwalls Tapped For East Coast Utility’s New Virtual Power Plant
June 20th, 2019 by Kyle Field
East Coast utility National Grid is rolling out a new program that allows Tesla Powerall owners to leverage their batteries to sell their stored power during peak grid utilization periods.
The new program is called ConnectedSolutions and leverages the combined storage capacity of residentially installed Tesla Powerwalls as a centrally managed virtual power plant to offset the need to install more inefficient peaker plants. Most peaker plants sit idle for much of the year, just waiting for the one or two times that grid usage spikes enough that they are needed, usually as a result of heavy air conditioning usage on hot summer days. When they are actually called on to provide power, the extended startup and shutdown cycles result in some of the dirtiest, most expensive power on the grid.
National Grid reached out to Powerwall owners in Massachusetts and Rhode Island with an offer this morning to enroll in the program and generate some extra cash without having to do anything differently. The new virtual power plant implementation is great solution for owners looking to leverage distributed energy storage to meet the needs of the central grid.
“Reducing our carbon footprint to combat climate change requires new and creative solutions for our customers and communities. We are pleased to have Tesla participate in our ConnectedSolutions program. By discharging customer-owned Tesla Powerwall batteries at appropriate times, we will reduce electric loads when it matters most to curb pollution, decrease infrastructure costs, and make the grid more sustainable,” John Isberg, Vice President of Customer Solutions at National Grid, said.
Tesla also noted a few other benefits of the program on the landing page for the new initiative about the new offering:
- Earn value from your Powerwall
- Provide protection during a grid outage
- Increase grid stability
- Reduce fossil fuels and support the transition to a renewables-based economy
Tapping into distributed residential energy storage systems is the next logical iteration of the demand response programs many utilities have implemented in the past. Demand response programs allow homeowners to opt into programs that give the utility control over high-electricity-usage appliances like air conditioning units. In the event of a heavy load on the grid, the utility can tap into those air conditioning units and turn them off. The owner is compensated for the inconvenience with a statement credit for each event. Of course, who really wants to have their air conditioner turned off when the weather heats up? Leveraging stored energy is much lower impact and allows the cold air to keep flowing.
“I like the idea of being part of the clean energy future,” early Tesla Powerwall customer Mike Gingerich of Amesbury, Massachuseets said. “Our house will be part of the smart grid. It should help us pay for our system, reduce electric costs, and reduce pollution. What’s not to like?”
Tesla told us the program is open to any National Grid customer in Massachusetts and Rhode Island — whether they currently have a Powerwall or if they buy one in the future. It’s estimated that the program could put upwards of several hundred dollars back into the pockets of owners per year, providing an easy way to tap into a passive energy storage asset and actually provide a tangible return on the investment. The actual amount earned will depend on the actual contribution a Powerwall makes throughout the year which depends on grid utilization, weather, and a number of other external factors.