Vermont utility Green Mountain Power (GMP) has announced a new virtual power plant program that will consist of a network of residential battery systems. The new Frequency Regulation Pilot Program allows customers to share stored energy with regional grid operator ISO-New England (ISO-NE) to keep a steady, regulated flow of energy on the grid at all times, a critical function for regional system safety and reliability for customers.

Tesla Powerwalls (Credit: Revolusun)

Using its network of Tesla Powerwall batteries and Tesla Autobidder software, GMP will be able to support the grid while providing reduced power costs to customers.

“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 successfully entered the Regulation Market with this network of residential power sources after three months of testing with ISO-NE, and partnerships with ISO-NE, Tesla and Customized Energy Solutions (CES), a software solutions company. Tesla coordinates the distributed batteries to respond to signals from ISO-NE and aggregates critical data about the response. 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.”

200 GMP customers are enrolled in the program now, and a prerequisite is that they already have two Powerwall batteries through a GMP program. Jimmy Karlan of Guilford, Vermont, is in GMP’s Powerwall program and was excited about this opportunity to share stored energy from his two Powerwalls in a new way.

“GMP is fighting the good fight to reduce carbon emissions and achieve 100% clean energy. I was overjoyed with the opportunity to help,” Karlan said. “The batteries provide seamless backup power at home when there are outages due to storms, as well as backup power to the grid when in need. It feels good to be part of this invisible network of Vermonters who share in their desire to help our state achieve 100% clean energy.”

GMP plans to expand this pilot program in the future. Customers sharing energy through the program are paid $13.50 per month on their energy statements. This includes a share for their program participation and for the increased use of their batteries, which can charge and discharge rapidly for periods of time each month. GMP takes steps to ensure that customers have backup power available if weather is predicted to cause outages. All GMP customers also benefit from the Frequency Regulation Pilot program because additional payments from ISO-NE flow to customers to lower costs.

In 2017, GMP was the first utility to partner with Tesla, and launched the first Powerwall pilot program. Now, through a series of groundbreaking programs, GMP is the first utility with tariffed home energy storage programs for customers. These programs provide participating customers with clean, seamless backup power in residential batteries in exchange for sharing some of that stored energy to reduce peak demand on the grid. There are about 3,000 Powerwalls installed in customers’ homes, and GMP’s network of stored energy, including Powerwalls, car chargers, and utility-scale batteries, helped reduce costs for customers by more than $3 million in 2020 through peak reduction, which will continue.

News item from GMP

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