SunPower paid customers via app to support grid at peak demand


From pv magazine USA

SunPower has partnered with OhmConnect to provide its customers with the opportunity to join virtual power plant (VPP) programs.

Homeowners in select California markets who have the mySunPower app can participate and earn rewards for managing their electricity use, especially during times of peak demand on the grid, when utility bill rates are the highest. The service helps balance the electricity grid while offering solar and energy storage customers an opportunity to derive value from their system.

SunVault battery owners can manage their stored electricity with OhmConnect, which tracks prices and demand in real-time, helping customers reduce energy use during these peak times. The SunVault system is set to automatically dispatch power from the homeowner's battery during times of peak grid demand, while retaining a fixed amount of energy to meet their home's energy needs.

“With the rise of virtual power plants, it is much easier for residential customers to get rewarded for helping us make the grid more resilient. With our SunPower partnership, OhmConnect can expand the ecosystem of homes that leverage the energy they generate to help stabilize the increasingly vulnerable grid,” said Cisco Devries, the CEO of OhmConnect.

The mySunPower app sends real-time push notifications before, during, and after the battery is leveraged, with the option to opt-out or adjust battery backup reserve levels at any point. Homeowners can manage their VPP activity, tracking battery reserves, discharge history, and earnings using the app.

“The companies plan to expand to other markets this summer,” said Ellen Kinney, vice president of digital at SunPower. “VPPs are primed to go mainstream as battery storage becomes more accessible, energy prices continue to soar, and the grid is continuously overtaxed by fires, heatwaves, and even rain.”

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OhmConnect is a no-cost service available to residential customers of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) utilities. California residents can enroll through the mySunPower app, available for download on Apple App Store or Google Play.

The US Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office (LPO) has focused on VPPs as the availability of debt financing for unfamiliar technologies has been a bottleneck for adoption. According to Jigar Shah, Director of the US Department of Energy Loan Programs Office,

“A VPP is a virtual aggregation of distributed energy resources (DERs) like PV, energy storage, EV chargers, and demand-responsive devices (such as water heaters, thermostats, and appliances),” said Shah. “VPPs do more than provide decarbonization and grid services – they increasingly give grid operators a large-scale and utility-grade alternative to new generation and system buildout through automated efficiency, capacity support, and non-wire alternatives.”

Recently, the LPO awarded a $3 billion conditional loan for Sunnova to provide loans to low- to moderate-income customers nationwide for VPP services.

“By deploying grid assets more efficiently, an aggregation of distributed resources lowers the cost of power for everybody, especially VPP participants,” Shah said.

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