Big deal: Sunrun and SCE team up on virtual power plant program

southern california

Sunrun and Southern California Edison (SCE), the largest utility in Southern California and the country as a whole, are teaming up to launch a virtual power plant. The partnership between Sunrun and SCE will demonstrate how residential rooftop solar and batteries support California’s ongoing transition to clean, reliable, locally-generated electricity.

Virtual power plants are being increasingly embraced as technology evolves and utilities and grid operators see the value afforded to the electricity system by residential solar and battery storage.

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“As we continue to decarbonize the power grid it is essential that we find innovative solutions enabling clean, affordable and reliable service,” said Jill Anderson, SCE’s Senior Vice President, Customer Service. “The Virtual Power Plant will help us understand how home battery systems can perform similar to single large capacity energy sources to benefit all customers.”

UPDATE: Sunrun inked a similar deal with Orange & Rockland in New York too in its quest to turn VPPs into its next big growth opportunity. O&R will begin reaching out to its customers in select areas in the coming months to inform them of the opportunity to adopt Sunrun’s Brightbox solar-powered battery system.

How it will work

Starting this month and continuing through mid-2021, Sunrun and SCE will network up to 300 of Sunrun’s Brightbox home solar and rechargeable battery systems across Southern California to demonstrate how clean energy stored in Sunrun Brightbox rechargeable solar battery systems can provide peaking capacity to the electrical grid for Southern California residents.

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The virtual power plant will provide a resilient, clean source of energy at times when electricity is needed most, such as during a hot summer day and other times when there is high demand for energy. Families with Sunrun’s Brightbox rechargeable solar battery systems will also have access to reliable backup power to keep their lights on and food fresh during outage events.

The program unlocks additional value for both Sunrun and Sunrun customers. Homeowners will earn an incentive for participating in the program, and Sunrun will generate revenue by managing and dispatching the networked home solar and battery-stored energy to the grid when SCE calls an event to meet local grid operational requirements.

Clean energy produced from rooftop solar panels is stored in Sunrun’s Brightbox rechargeable solar battery throughout the day. If there is an outage, Brightbox provides backup electricity to the customer’s home and enables them to power through the event 24/7, with the battery recharging every time the sun comes up. Customers have the choice to back up everything from their entire home to simply essential appliances, depending on the type and number of batteries they choose. The virtual power plant will only make use of this battery capacity on the grid when the customer is not relying on it for backup.

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