This is the third PGE Virtual Power plant day in 15 days. I am in the VPP program in Northern California. This is the second day in a row with a VPP and the third since the first 15 days ago. Tesla set up the software to allow people with stationary storage power walls and solar power to get paid $2 per kilowatt hour from the utility. The utility in my case is Pacific Gas and Electric. If there were three events every 15 days for 365 days then there would be 61 events in a year. There will likely be more events in the summer with extreme heat and less frequent events in the winter. Each event is causing PGE to pay each one of nearly 3000 participants about $50-70 each. If there are 40 events in a year, then people in the program will make about $2000-3000. The VPP payments will almost be as much as savings on the electric bill. Electric bill savings are about $3000-4000 per year. There is also another $500 per year from net metering. Net metering is when extra solar power runs onto the grid and reverses the meter in a trickle of power. The total earnings with solar and power walls and in a VPP look on track to be $6000 per year. This pays back solar panel and battery costs after purchase credits in about 5 years.
Here is where I had data on the second VPP event yesterday. The combined power from 2800-3000 homes provides a peak of 18-20 Megawatts of power and about 50 MWh of power during peak days when there is not enough “normal power” supply relative to demand.
If PGE uses distributed consumer Power Walls then they could stop using natural gas emergency and peaker plants. Even frequent VPP usage at about $100,000 per event could be economical for peaker plants that are used less than 1% of the time.
We will see how often the VPP is used for an entire year. The heat wave is showing that PGE is not prepared with right amount of power for normal operations.
PGE has also had about 6 power outages in my area this year. The power wall batteries and solar help me avoid those inconveniences and lack of reliability.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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