Vermont utility balances regional grid with consumers’ Tesla batteries

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In the US, Vermont-based utility company Green Mountain Power has announced that it is using consumer onsite batteries to ensure the reliability of the New England regional grid network. The regional grid is operated by ISO-New England and stretches across six US states including Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Green Mountain Power claims its pilot is the industry’s first incorporating residential batteries for the stability of a regional energy transmission network. As part of the utility’s new Frequency Regulation pilot project, some 200 consumers were asked to trade their excess or stored energy into ISO-New England’s network. In return, consumers are paid for the participation of their Tesla Powerwall energy storage batteries into the real-time energy Regulation Market. The batteries are integrated with Tesla’s Autobidder software to enable quick response to grid status signals sent by ISO-New England.

In addition to cutting carbon, the project is benefitting customers of Green Mountain Power through reduced power supply costs. Consumers are also using the batteries for backup power during outages caused by harsh weather.

The aim is to accelerate the shift from fossil fuel energy generation by encouraging competition amongst energy producers. The development is expected to increase the adoption of distributed energy resources and the energy flexibility market, moves that will further accelerate the energy transition through the retirement of fossil-fueled energy generators.

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The entrance of Green Mountain Power, consumers and Tesla into ISO-New England’s Regulation Market follows a successful pilot which ran for a period of three months. The pilot was conducted in partnership with technology firm Customized Energy Solutions which is responsible for the key integrations between Tesla and ISO-NE.

Mari McClure, CEO of Green Mountain Power, said: “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.” 

The utility is planning to expand the business case to a wider customer base. Currently, some 3,000 Green Mountain Power customers have Tesla Powerwall batteries which they are using to reduce peak demand on the grid. As a result of consumer onsite batteries, Green Mountain Power has managed to reduce costs for customers by more than $3 million in 2020 through peak reduction.

In 2017, Green Mountain Power became the first utility to partner with Tesla to launch the first Powerwall pilot programme. Through a series of programmes, the Vermont energy company is the first utility with tariffed home energy storage programmes for customers.