California utilities reinforce grid with consumer solar and storage

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Three utilities in California have partnered with grid solutions firm Swell Energy to pilot how consumer onsite solar and battery energy storage systems can be used to expand grid services and use cases for energy reliability.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) have embarked on pilots with Swell Energy to explore how residential solar and storage help to meet energy needs at local and regional levels.

The three utilities are using the pilots to expand the participation of residential consumers in Capacity Bidding Programmes in support of the California Public Utility Commission’s goal of reducing load during California Independent System Operator emergency power events.

Consumers who store excess energy generated onsite in batteries and trade the electricity for reliability on the main grid will be compensated.

The system helps the main utilities avoid high wholesale market prices and invest in new energy generation infrastructure to meet demand due to increased use.

California has been witnessing frequent outages, and renewable energy and energy flexibility are expected to help the state address its energy woes, according to the statement.

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For PG&E, Swell Energy will enrol existing and new residential solar + storage customers into the Capacity Bidding Programme and collectively manage the systems to provide needed capacity during times of high demand or high wholesale market prices.

For SDG&E, Swell Energy is expanding residential participation in its programme, which was previously only offered to commercial and industrial customers.

Swell Energy is helping SDG&E evaluate different scenarios in which residential solar + storage systems could be used to improve the overall reliability of the grid in the context of SDG&E’s specific goals and constraints.

In addition to the two existing virtual power plants, Swell has with SCE, the two are expanding applications for residential solar + storage assets to balance energy on the grid across a number of different scenarios and use cases.

The pilots will enable consumers to participate in climate mitigation and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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