Last week, Tesla announced a program for California-based owners of its home battery products. Sign up with the company, and you’d become part of what the company calls a “virtual power plant.” You would be able to use your battery to keep the grid stable during periods of high demand and be well-compensated for the electrons.
While this may conjure images of Powerwall batteries across the state sending electricity to the grid during a crisis, that doesn’t appear to be what’s happening here. Instead, the batteries will be taking part in a utility’s program that’s designed to reduce demand, which the utility company will presumably do by using the battery to supply some of the demand inside the battery owner’s house. It’s a clever way for homeowners to take advantage of a program that’s otherwise limited to commercial users.
It’s an emergency
Tesla’s announcement of the program says that it will be part of Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E, a California utility) Emergency Load Reduction Program, which we’ll focus on in the next section. At the moment, we’ll look at what participants will end up doing.