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Courtesy of Octopus Energy

Clean Power

Octopus Energy & Enphase Bring Virtual Power Plant Technology To Texas

Octopus Energy and Enphase have introduced a virtual power plant program in Texas that allows customers to leverage home solar power.

You might think Texas, where the governor and his henchmen all think renewable energy is the spawn of the Devil, would be the last place in America that would see virtual power plant technology offered to homeowners. But in fact, ERCOT, the utility operator in Texas, is mandated by law to build the grid as cheaply as possible. That, in turn, leaves it wide open to system failures like the massive blackouts that struck the state after a powerful winter storm in 2021.

The governor blamed renewables, but in truth it was the failure of ERCOT to anticipate such a weather event that prevented the wind turbines the are such a frequent sight in Texas from being able to withstand freezing temperatures. Such measures cost money, and so of course they were not included when those wind farms were built. Being cheap often means spending more money in the long run, as Texans discovered when the price of electricity shot up from 12 cents a kWh to $3.00 a kWh or more.

The upshot of this madness in the pursuit of frugality is that Texas authorities have created a situation where it is far less expensive to install a solar system with battery backup than it is to just keep relying on Greg Abbott and his pals to provide reliable, affordable electricity for the people of Texas.

The Virtual Power Plant Plan

This past week, Octopus Energy and Enphase announced a new partnership that allows residential customers the opportunity to integrate Enphase home solar and battery solutions into their energy plan to unlock low cost residential energy rates. As part of the agreement, Octopus Energy will be able to flexibly control the customer’s battery to reduce usage when the grid is the most constrained and help save customers hundreds of dollars each year, according to a press release.  “Our partnership is just beginning. We look forward to expanding to new markets with world-class products and services to advance a more sustainable future together,” Octopus Energy said.

The proprietary software platform from Octopus Energy manages, controls, and optimizes distributed energy resources. It plans to create a virtual power plant with the Enphase home battery systems and will be bidding these DERs in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) ancillary markets — a first of its kind for these assets.

Octopus Energy can optimize how a customer’s battery interacts with the electric grid through Intelligent Octopus, its smart device retail energy plan, that lets customers access the least expensive retail rates. And of course, during times of a grid outage, the cheapest electricity by far is that being generated by a home’s rooftop solar system.

As Octopus Energy expands its retail energy presence to states outside of Texas, it hopes the new partnership will reduce costs for customers and promote a cleaner grid. “Our partnership with Enphase Energy is a critically important step as we accelerate the renewable energy transition across the U.S. Load flexibility creates enormous value in high-renewable energy grids and energy retailers have a unique ability to customize electric rates for customers, so this a perfect opportunity to integrate the value of demand response into a retail product to create the cheapest rates for customers.”

“Retailers have the opportunity to lead the energy transition by combining customer-centric product offerings, modern technology, and rate-making authority to create products that lower costs and truly lower carbon,” said Michael Lee, CEO of Octopus Energy US. “We look forward to working with Enphase Energy as we grow a wide variety of low cost and innovative rates to decarbonize our electric grid.”

“We are pleased to partner with Octopus Energy to bring home solar and batteries to homeowners in Texas, helping them better manage their electricity costs and creating a more resilient energy system for everyone,” said Dave Ranhoff, chief commercial officer at Enphase Energy. “Our partnership is just beginning. We look forward to expanding to new markets with world-class products and services to advance a more sustainable future together.”

Octopus Energy and Enphase’s partnership comes as policymakers around the globe look to leverage emerging technologies to hasten the shift to renewables, as well as eliminate barriers to clean energy growth. Together with Enphase, Octopus Energy will enable customers to optimize their virtual power plant home energy system around easy participation in ancillary markets and demand response programs for immediate savings.

This is the latest step in Octopus Energy’s mission to enable a smarter, greener future across the globe. One of the most awarded energy companies in the United Kingdom, where the company was founded five years ago, Octopus Energy entered the US market in 2020. In 2022, it launched Octopus Electric Vehicles, its integrated demand response EV leasing plan that accelerates accessibility and adoption of EVs and smart charging, as well as Intelligent Octopus, a smart demand response plan which lowers electric rates by up to 30 percent just by allowing Octopus to automate smart charging for the customer.

The EV Concierge Program

Last summer, Chris George, the head of Octopus Electric Vehicles in America, told CleanTechnica, “When visiting our website, users will be greeted with our EV Concierge program, sample EV options, and an invitation to fill out our form to see if they qualify to participate in the beta program. If a customer qualifies, our EV Concierge will provide qualifying customers white glove service, helping soon-to-be EV drivers through the entire search and vehicle leasing process, including selection and delivery of a new or used EV of their choice, installation of an EV home charger, and education on best practices for EV ownership. New customers will get a brand new EV rate.

“With the high demand for EVs and low supply of used and new EVs, it’s an important time for us to enter the EV space to help drivers transition into EV ownership as we push toward electrification. Plus, with our white glove service, inclusive of EV education, we can help make the switch easier than ever by walking customers through the entire process – increasing confidence in EV ownership and eliminating ‘fear of the unknown.’”

In a recent article, we told our readers about a new report being circulated in the rarified air at Davos this week that identifies three so-called “super tipping points” that could help move the world away from the cliff of climate disaster. Octopus and Enphase are helping to make that happen.

 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?

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