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East Bay Customers Support California’s Grid During Extreme Heat Wave Through Innovative Program

For the past two years, East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), one of the nation’s top clean energy providers, and Sunrun, the largest home solar and battery storage company in the USA, have been installing new solar + battery systems. So far, they have enrolled more than 1,000 single-family homes in Alameda County and Tracy into EBCE’s Resilient Home program. Resilient Home customers are compensated for dispatching their battery energy in a Virtual Power Plant that reduces EBCE’s peak demand, improves the resilience of the local power grid, and insulates customers from the impacts of power outages.

Image courtesy of Sunrun.

This month, the homes played a key role in keeping the lights on in California. East Bay Community Energy announced that more than a thousand solar and home battery customers participating in EBCE’s Resilient Home Program provided critical emergency energy to stave off rolling blackouts during California’s unprecedented string of Flex Alerts. In an effort to stabilize the statewide grid during record energy demand last week, California’s Independent System Operator (ISO) and Department of Water Resources (DWR) also activated expensive natural gas powered emergency power generators.

Sunrun says it delivered 1.1 gigawatt-hours of energy back to California’s grid during peak demand hours of 4:00–9:00 p.m. from September 1–8, including 55 megawatt-hours from nearly 1,000 solar-plus-battery customers in EBCE territory, underscoring the incredible value distributed energy provides. “EBCE developed this program two years ago as a means of increasing the resilience of the grid,” said Nick Chaset, CEO of East Bay Community Energy. “It was immediately following a monumental season of drought, heat, and wildfires, and we knew that wasn’t an isolated incident, so we got to work helping customers install home battery systems that could be dispatched to the grid at critical times. Last week’s success in avoiding rolling blackouts is a testament to our customers’ collective action.”

“Every year we find ourselves battling prolonged heat waves that push our antiquated grid to the brink of failure, yet we react the same way every time,” said Mary Powell, CEO of Sunrun. “We must break away from traditional thinking and change our approach to dealing with the devastating impacts of climate change. EBCE’s forward-thinking programs are a bellwether for how to provide pathways for Californians to take control over their energy, lower costs and put customers at the center of our energy system.”

These types of applications of distributed energy storage have been talked about for a long time now. It’s really good to see more of these being implemented and employed. We hope to see more of these types of projects around the world.

 
 
 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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