Tesla is urging Powerwall owners in Texas to help demonstrate how a fleet of home battery systems can be used to help stabilize the state’s grid. Texas’ grid has gained notoriety due to challenges it faces from the weather, from extreme heat to winter snow and ice storms.
Tesla has filed a request for a rule change with the Electric Council of Texas (ERCOT), which should pave the way for utilities to bid on capacity stored in battery storage systems. Tesla would be able to accomplish this using a virtual power plant, similar to a project launched last summer in California.
Tesla is looking to operate the distributed energy assets generated in its Powerwall batteries as a virtual power plant, according to a PV Magazine report. If successful, Tesla’s planned ERCOT demonstration could prove that home battery systems could be tapped as a legitimate means to support the grid.
Tesla Powerwall users are not required to participate in the ERCOT demonstration, though owners who do would be provided some perks. Powerwall customers who participate in at least 80% of the tests would be receiving a $40 Tesla gift card. Participants would also be able to participate in something much bigger than simply meeting their homes’ energy storage needs.
For its ERCOT virtual power plant demonstration, Tesla would be controlling participating Powerwall batteries. Processes that would be handled by Tesla include charging, discharging and configuring the home battery to respond to grid conditions automatically, and support tests that demonstrate grid services.
Tesla has assured homeowners participating in the ERCOT virtual power plant demonstration that their batteries would not be discharged below 20% of their capacity. This should allow homeowners to still have enough backup energy just in case they need them for their homes. Tesla, however, has also noted that it would be charging and discharging Powerwalls at any time and to any extent as needed.
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