Nearly 2,500 Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers with Tesla battery systems came together to contribute up to 16.5 MW of solar power to California’s grid last week, amid calls from the grid operator for customers to conserve energy.
The Tesla and PG&E virtual power plant was activated for the first time Aug. 17, PG&E Corp. CEO Patti Poppe said in a tweet, adding that “the world’s largest distributed battery sure did put on a show!”
In June, Tesla and PG&E launched their program to aggregate customer-owned Powerwalls and deliver power to California’s grid during times of emergency both this and next summer. There are roughly 50,000 Tesla distributed storage systems in the utility’s service territory. Customers who participate in the program are paid $2/kWh of electricity exported to the system when the grid is stressed.
The California Independent System Operator issued a statewide call for electricity conservation for last Wednesday between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., due to high temperature forecasts. The grid operator anticipated that because of this, electricity demand would increase, largely because of more air conditioning usage.
California regulators last December approved a series of decisions to bolster grid reliability in the wake of blackouts experienced in the state during a heatwave in 2020. Among other things, the decisions ordered the state’s utilities to procure between 2 GW and 3 GW of demand-side and supply-side resources, as well as increase the compensation customers will receive to conserve energy as part of demand response programs.