To help deliver on its 2030 Zero Carbon Plan to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its power supply, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Swell Energy have signed an agreement for Swell to act as the aggregator for the new My Energy Optimizer Partner+ program – a residential customer-driven virtual power plant initiative.
The initial effort will bring 20 MWh and 10 MW of renewable capacity to SMUD by recruiting, installing and aggregating capacity from customers’ battery storage systems located in the utility’s service area. The program has the opportunity to scale to 54 MWh and 27 MW over the term of the partnership. Contract capability is based on a 2-hour deliverable capacity, inclusive of exports with day-ahead notification for up to 240 events per year.
The virtual power plant program is one of the advanced initiatives underway in California to aggregate residential solar and battery storage systems, in a centralized manner, to reduce carbon emissions and make the electric grid more renewable, resilient and reliable. While individual solar and battery storage systems help customers manage their own energy needs, the My Energy Optimizer Partner+ program enables customers to operate their individual systems alongside many others to aggregate and dispatch renewable energy sources to benefit their communities. Participating My Energy Optimizer Partner+ customers will receive both upfront and ongoing compensation, or GridRevenue, based on the capacity of their solar and energy storage systems.
“As more SMUD customers add solar panel systems paired with battery storage solutions, they’ll be better able to manage their own energy needs while making meaningful contributions toward reducing their community’s carbon footprint,” says Lora Anguay, chief zero carbon officer of SMUD. “We are excited to partner with Swell to make this program a reality in 2023 and continue to deliver on our decarbonization plan, which promises environmental protection, excellence in grid resiliency and reliability, affordable rates, and local economic and workforce growth opportunities that benefit the entire region.”
Currently, there are approximately 600 customer-sited energy storage systems in SMUD’s service area, with an additional 400 in the interconnection process and thousands more projected over the next several years. The success of programs like the My Energy Optimizer Partner+ is based not only on total enrollment but also on the additional job opportunities created for local installers and on the socially equitable impact of the program. Accordingly, SMUD has committed to funding batteries for low-income customers in the service area through local non-profits such as Grid Alternatives.
“We’re honored to work with SMUD towards the achievement of their Carbon Zero 2030 plan through the deployment of a multifaceted virtual power plant across SMUD territory and the overall CAISO grid,” comments Suleman Khan, CEO of Swell Energy. “Our collaborative virtual power plant will provide real-time energy management and synchronized battery dispatch across SMUD’s customer base, enabling large-scale renewable deployment and minimizing the need for conventional power plants in the region. We believe this model is a beacon for how municipal utilities and other publicly owned utilities can achieve scale and value with distributed energy resources.”
My Energy Optimizer Partner+ will launch enrollments in Q1 of 2023, with operations planned to start in April 2023. Enrollment will be open to both new and existing solar and storage customers. Customers on SMUD’s Solar and Storage Rate can optimize onsite energy usage by pairing solar with energy storage.