Vermont’s Green Mountain Power (GMP) launched a Frequency Regulation Pilot program last week that will be using the energy stored in a network of residential batteries to help keep the ISO-New England (ISO-NE) regional grid balanced. Right now, 200 GMP customers are enrolled in the program now, and a prerequisite is that they already have two Tesla Powerwall batteries through a GMP program.
ISO-NE is continually calling on qualified regional energy producers to increase or decrease output to help maintain that important balanced flow of power on the grid at all times. Typically, this cycling on and off of energy is done by ISO-NE with fossil fuel generators through the Regulation Market, a wholesale energy market that also pays participants for their consistent, quick, and accurate responses to grid needs, which can shift minute-to-minute. Using their network of Powerwall batteries and Tesla Autobidder software, GMP is the first utility to perform this essential grid service in the wholesale power market with clean stored energy distributed from customers’ homes. In addition to cutting carbon, this pioneering project is also benefitting all GMP customers through reduced power supply costs. It creates a new value stream for all GMP customers in addition to the ongoing benefits of GMP’s earlier home energy storage programs.
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.
How we got here: 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.
“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.”
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.