Last week, Vermont’s Green Mountain Power (GMP) launched a program that would utilize energy stored in a network of residential battery storage units to help balance the ISO-New England (ISO-NE) regional grid. The utility opted to tap Tesla’s Powerwall batteries and the EV maker’s Autobidder software for the project.
GMP has a long history with Tesla, being one of the earliest Powerwall adopters. The utility deployed 2,000 Powerwalls to housing units in 2018, and last year, it added an additional 1,000 of the home battery systems. GMP runs several programs using its Tesla Powerwall batteries, and so far, the utility has noted that the energy storage units have saved people $3 million.
Green Mountain Power’s new program, which requires participants to already have two Tesla Powerwalls through a previous GMP program, stands as the utility’s latest strategy directly related to the residential battery unit. Interestingly enough, the electric utility is also looking to tap into the advantages offered by Tesla’s Autobidder software, a machine learning-driven energy management system described by Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Energy Engineering Drew Baglino as “Autopilot for grid-tied batteries.”
“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,” GMP noted in a press release.
Mari McClure, president, and CEO of GMP, shared her thoughts on the program. “This project would not be possible without the great partnerships we have with our customers in the Powerwall program. 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,” she said.
While the recent program only has 200 enrolled customers for now, GMP plans to expand the initiative further in the near future. Customers who opt to share their energy through the program are paid $13.50 per month on their energy statements. This includes a share for their participation in the initiative and for the increased use of their Powerwall batteries. GMP has also noted that it would take steps to ensure that those in the program will have backup power available if the weather is predicted to cause power outages.