VPP marketplace Leap expands role of DER to support California’s grid

California on map

With extreme heat forecast to put strain on California’s electric grid again this summer, state power providers are turning to DERs to play a major role in providing resiliency. Leap, an energy marketplace that enables virtual power plants (VPPs), announced an expansion of its role in the state this week to provide flexible electricity capacity ahead of peak summertime demand. Leap now has agreements with 14 major electricity providers across the state, including a large group of community choice aggregators (CCAs), investor-owned utilities (IOUs), and independent power producers (IPPs).

“Over the past few summers, California has seen more and more reliability issues from extreme weather events,” said Thomas Folker, Leap’s co-founder and CEO. “After playing an active role in providing flexible capacity throughout last summer, we’re growing our portfolio ahead of tight system conditions in 2021 and 2022. With our new class of distributed assets and leading distributed energy partners, we look forward to using our flexible capacity to improve grid resiliency and help firm up intermittent renewables.”

The newly contracted counterparties include most CCAs in the state, including East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), as well as Independent Power Producers (IPPs), enabling Leap to work with its partners across PG&E, SCE and SDG&E territories with multi-year agreements. In total, Leap has 288 megawatts (MW) and over 18,000 meters under contract from more than 30 leading technology partners.

How it works: Leap’s marketplace allows technology partners to use their distributed assets to respond to market pricing signals, flexing demand during both extreme grid events and on a day-to-day basis. This enables active market participation vis-a-vis high-emission and high-cost gas peaker plants. Leap’s marketplace creates VPPs made up of diverse load types, including residential and commercial batteries, electric vehicle charging, smart thermostats, agricultural and municipal water pumping, cold storage, and commercial HVAC systems.

Leap’s partners are bringing new customers into the energy markets. These partners include leading residential energy provider Sunnova, who will leverage its growing fleet of residential energy storage customers to help support the grid for the first time this summer.  

“Sunnova recognizes the challenging situation ahead for the California power grid, and our solar + storage customers can help mitigate grid reliability issues this summer while keeping the lights on during potential power outages,” said McCrea Dunton, Director of Energy Services at Sunnova. “We look forward to working with Leap to bring more distributed energy resources to California which can support a flexible and reliable power grid for all Californians.”

“Resiliency will continue to be a key focus for the California grid this summer,” said Nick Chaset, CEO of EBCE. “Contracting with Leap is an integral part of our strategy to enhance reliability throughout summer peak demand, and will allow us to source our resiliency using clean, flexible grid capacity.”

Leap continues to create new relationships for bringing flexible capacity to electrical grids across the United States and will announce its expansion into new statewide energy markets later this year. The company’s multi-year contracts allow it to give forward certainty – even up to 10 years – to help technology partners earn additional revenue for providing flexibility services throughout California and beyond.

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