Homeowners across the world have been investing in rooftop solar PV for at least two decades with much of that investment taking place over the past five years. As battery pricing has dropped, many of those same solar enthusiasts have added energy storage to their arrays so they can use more of the solar energy they generate themselves instead of sending their surplus back to the grid.
In recent years, a critical mass of solar and storage has been obtained such that companies can aggregate those distributed energy resources (DER) and use them to help keep the grid stable during times of peak demand or to keep customers online during outages.
Sunrun, in partnership with the New England ISO was one of the first DER aggregators to enter the wholesale market. In 2019 the company bid 20MW of residential solar + storage capacity into the New England ISO forward capacity market. At the time, the Sunrun director of policy and storage market strategy said he thought this announcement was the “tip of the spear” in terms of using DER to provide grid services.
On October 18, the Texas ERCOT board approved a DER pilot for the Texas market. Amy Heart, VP of Public Policy at Sunrun is a member of the Public Utility Commission of Texas’ DER Task Force and announced the approval of the ERCOT Aggregated Distributed Energy Resources (ADER) Pilot Program on LinkedIn.
“The DER Pilot Program paves the way for Texans with home solar+battery solutions to provide energy to the Texas grid at times when it’s most needed – helping to boost electric reliability and resiliency,” she wrote.
Amy Heart, Sunrun’s VP of policy, appeared on the Texas Power Podcast to discuss Winter Storm Uri, Texas’ interest in virtual power plants, and more. Subscribe to the Texas Power Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Heart explained that the move will help create a “stronger, more dynamic Texas grid.” It would be hard to forget the Winter Storm Uri disaster in which a prolonged streak of frigid weather almost took down the Texas grid as frozen generators tripped offline and ERCOT instituted rolling blackouts that lasted for days and days.
Behind the meter batteries and solar PV will now be able to potentially play a role in keeping the grid up and running should a similar weather event ever take place in the future.
“The pilot will allow customers to share stored clean, local electrons from their home solar + battery systems to the electricity market and get compensated for these services, making these options more accessible and affordable,” added Heart in her post.
The pilot comes as other states are testing DER solutions for grid services, such as GM’s recent announcement that it is working with California’s PG&E, Con Ed in New York and the New Hampshire Electric Co-op on pilots testing the use of vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology to keep customers online during short power outages.
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“Other states facing supply capacity constraints, high energy prices, and increased outages can, and should, replicate this model in developing a DER solution through quick, effective collaboration with clear goals in mind,” said Heart.
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Author: Jennifer Runyon