Bay Area Aggregators Launch Big Home Battery Backup Plan

30 Jul 2020

Three Bay Area community choice energy organizations announced a deal with Sunrun for 20 MW of new behind-the-meter solar plus battery backup in their territories to keep electricity flowing during shutoffs. 

Under this novel agreement announced July 30, East Bay Community Energy, Peninsula Clean Energy and Silicon Valley Clean Energy will promote the Sunrun residential projects to their customers, including to those financially and physically vulnerable. The individual customers will pay for the home solar-storage units in exchange for lower energy bills and financial incentives.

Participating residential customers can fuel the grid when demand is high and receive subsides from the California Public Utilities Commission’s Self Generation Incentive Program.

In addition, customers will receive one-time payments of $1,000 for offering resource adequacy capacity.

Under the arrangement, Sunrun will use the solar-battery systems to reduce the aggregators’ peak load and resource adequacy obligations.  

The distributed energy projects may start rolling out this year through 2022 to fuel up to 6,000 homes and multifamily dwellings across Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties. 

Last fall, Pacific Gas & Electric cut off power to some 2 million people during high and dry winds for several days. In San Mateo County, for example, up to 55,000 went without power. In both Santa Clara and Alameda counties, about 30,000 people lost power. 

The community aggregators supply the power to their customers but over PG&E lines.

“In addition to providing needed resiliency to the members of our community most impacted by power shutoffs, this program is instrumental in shifting away from a centralized, fossil fuel-based grid to one that is distributed, decentralized and decarbonized,” Girish Balachandran, Silicon Valley CEO, said.

The customers will either sign a contract with Sunrun to purchase the system or ink a solar/storage service contract. 

The cost of the solar battery installations is confidential.

Silicon Energy contracted for up to 7.5 MW over 10 years to be installed at an estimated 2,500 single-family and 2,000 multifamily customer residences. Peninsula plans to have 5 MW installed over an estimated 2,000 homes. East Bay estimates more than 5 MW of installations on about 1,000 residences, J.P. Ross, Sr. Director of Local Development and Electrification, said.

The average project size for single family homes is 5 kW of solar and about 5.6 kW of battery storage, able to run up to four hours. Multi-family residence projects will be significantly larger. The storage will be Tesla Powerwalls or LG batteries.

Each of the three aggregators has reserved a portion of the installations for low income communities and people dependent on powered medical devices.

At SV Clean Energy, at least 20% of the units will be targeted at residences of those financially struggling or medical baseline customers at multifamily units, spokesperson Pamela Leonard said. Of the roughly 1,000 residential units in East Bay territory, the plan is to install 20% of the projects at the abodes of the physically and financially vulnerable. The target for Peninsula’s disadvantaged and medical baseline customers is 10% of 2,000 residences, according to Peter Levitt, assistant manager of distributed energy resources.

Elizabeth McCarthy

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