November 26, 2020: Southern California Edison, one of the largest electric utilities in the US, on November 19 said it had signed a contract with solar and battery storage provider Sunrun in an effort to stabilize the grid with solar-powered home batteries bundled together in a kind of virtual power plant.
Under the agreement, SCE will send signals to Sunrun during high-demand events such as extreme heat, and Sunrun will dispatch energy from thousands of home-based Brightbox solar-powered battery systems installed in the territory, boosting the overall power capacity of the grid by 5MW.
The home batteries, which Sunrun will start installing at the end of 2020 with a view to completion by August 2023, will also provide back-up to the households in which they are installed if there is a black-out. They will be paid for by those who choose to install them — with no upfront costs and what Sunrun says are low monthly payments.
“The need for a more resilient grid and back-up power could not be more apparent in California at this moment in history,” said Sunrun CEO and co-founder Lynn Jurich.
The deal was first announced this June, with an initial 300 rooftop solar-plus-battery systems to be installed by the two companies.
Take-up could run into thousands if the scheme appeals to California’s householders.