Green Mountain Power, an electric distribution company in the US state of Vermont, has announced a new plan to use its network of residential Powerwall batteries and Tesla’s Autobidder software to help keep the state’s grid balanced.
The “pioneering” new Frequency Regulation Pilot program will allow Vermont residents to share electricity stored in Tesla Powerwalls with regional grid-operator ISO-New England (ISO-NE) to help balance the grid’s electricity needs.
The pilot program is being billed as a plan to use clean energy from residential batteries instead of relying on fossil fuels to provide critical grid balancing needs.
As Green Mountain Power (GMP) explains things, ISO-NE continually calls on qualified regional energy producers to increase or decrease output to help maintain a balanced flow of power on the grid.
This cycling on and off of energy has traditionally been done by ISO-NE with fossil fuel generators through the Regulation Market, a wholesale energy market that also pays participants for their ability to consistently, quickly, and accurately respond to minute-by-minute grid needs.
However, GMP’s plan to provide this critical grid balancing act with its existing residential network of Tesla Powerwall batteries and Tesla’s Autobidder software is a first for a US utility. Green Mountain Power suggests in their press release that the electricity stored in its network of residential Powerwalls is clean energy, suggesting that the residential Powerwalls are tied into rooftop solar installations.
Already 200 GMP customers are enrolled in the pilot program – with the prerequisite that they already have two Powerwall batteries installed through a GMP program. GMP also plans to expand the pilot program in the future, and ensures that customers have backup power available if weather is predicted to cause outages.
In addition to reducing the role of fossil fuels in Vermont’s power grid, the new pilot program will also benefit all GMP customers through reduced power supply costs, and will also create a new value stream for GMP customers in addition to the ongoing benefits of GMP’s earlier home energy storage programs.
Meanwhile, customers in the program are paid $US13.50 per month on their energy statements, which includes a share for their participation in the program and for the increased use of their batteries.
“This project would not be possible without the great partnerships we have with our customers in the Powerwall program,” said Mari McClure, president and CEO of GMP.
“This pilot is unique and important because it builds off our existing innovation and collaboration to deliver meaningful change to essential grid functions by reducing carbon emissions, increasing performance and lowering costs.”
GMP has already entered its network of residential power sources into the Regulation Market after three months of testing with ISO-NE, and thanks to its partnerships with ISO-NE, Tesla, and Customized Energy Solutions (CES), a software solutions company.
Specifically, Tesla coordinates the distributed batteries to respond to signals from ISO-NE and aggregates critical data about the response, while CES provides the key integrations between Tesla and ISO-NE.
“GMP is on the leading edge of innovation, and CES is proud to be part of this innovative project, helping to enable the aggregating of multiple residential batteries into the Regulation Market,” said Erik Paulson, vice president of wholesale service at CES.
“This success marks a critical point of progress and shows how a new energy future is happening right now in Vermont, leading the way for others to follow.”