Virtual power plants (VPPs) are hugely important for California’s grid — and can be super valuable for home solar + storage customers — in the wake of NEM 3.0 rate changes. Problem is, many people still have no idea what the heck a VPP is, or how to enroll.
In July 2023, Haven Energy commissioned an online survey through AYTM of 1,000 adults, 18 years or older, located in California. The survey revealed that 86% of Californians do not know what virtual power plants are, among other findings.
“While it was no surprise that nearly nine in 10 Californians are unaware of VPPs, our experience has made it clear that by simplifying the homeowner experience and making enrollment easy, people will participate,” said Jeff Chapin, cofounder of Haven Energy. “The more we educate consumers about the benefits of VPPs, the faster we can transform the energy grid to a cleaner system for everyone.”
Haven Energy launched with the goal of being a tech agnostic resource to simplify and facilitate more home energy storage installs (for customers and installers). This week, Haven Energy tries to do the same with virtual power plants by launching its own VPP, which is now available to all California homeowners who have energy storage.
“As batteries become mainstream, virtual power plants are key to unlocking the efficiency of energy storage, which will maximize the potential of wind and solar generation and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Vinnie Campo, Co-founder and CEO of Haven Energy.
Homeowners who enroll batteries in Haven’s VPP will earn a guaranteed minimum of $125/year, the company says.
What is a VPP again? A VPP is a network of small distributed electrical appliances, like home batteries, solar panels, heat pumps, and smart thermostats, that communicate with the power grid. The VPP is called a “virtual” power plant because it does not involve a physical power plant or centralized power generation facility. Instead, this collection of distributed appliances can provide variable generation and consumption to help keep the electric grid balanced.
When electricity demand is very high, enrolled customers can earn extra income for drawing power from their battery instead of the grid, or by exporting their stored battery energy back to the grid.
Haven Energy’s VPP is a provider of the California Energy Commission (CEC) Demand Side Grid Support (DSGS) Program, which offers incentives to electric utility customers that have backup generation, including energy storage. The DSGS program runs from May 1 to October 31 and was designed to help reduce the risk of rotating power outages.
To be eligible, customers must have storage paired with net-energy metering (NEM) solar or stand-alone storage.
Home battery systems provided through Haven can be paired with previously installed solar panels or charge directly from the grid, and they provide backup power in case of emergencies. A 10 kWh battery can power the basic operations of a house for at least 24 hours. Software provided by the company will automatically switch a home to draw from its stored energy reserves during an outage and can reduce electricity bills by up to $1600 per year per battery through optimized time-of-use (TOU) programming.
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