Tesla is calling ERCOT for some Texas homes to be turned into virtual power plants, following a test run by the manufacturer. Broad public participation should help the utility operator stabilize the state's power grid.
Tesla is taking the next step after conducting tests with a small virtual power plant in Texas. A pilot project that brought together 64 upstate homes equipped with solar panels and Tesla Powerwalls showed that systems can provide grid services in seconds, according to Arushi Sharma-Frank, Tesla's US energy markets policy lead, during ERCOT's virtual workshop on May 31.
On May 18, Tesla submitted OBDRR041, a rule change request with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages the state electric grid. The proposed changes will allow electric utilities to work with customers who have solar panels and energy storage in their homes. This means that such households can bid on the extra capacity.
During ERCOT's virtual workshop, Sharma-Frank said that Texas has thousands of Megawatts of assets on the distribution system, trending the acceleration in distributed energy resources (DERs) (behind-the-meter generation and storage). In support of her statement, she quoted FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, Opening Remarks at 9/24/20 FERC Open Meeting announcing FERC Order 2222:
“DERs can hide in plain sight in our homes, businesses and communities, but their power is mighty…Projections indicate that from 65 gigawatts to more than 380 gigawatts of DERs could be added to the country’s power grids over the next four years.”
Sharma-Frank said the main challenge is that Texas needs “all available, affordable, dispatchable electric capacity/resources mobilized to address grid reliability challenges” because “distributed energy resources are available today, but are unrealized dispatchable assets to ERCOT.”
As a short term solution, Tesla proposes minor changes to an existing, unutilized ERCOT market design. This concept, which was developed nine years ago, could immediately unlock grid reliability services from small distributed energy resources that can be dispatched as an “aggregation.”
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