Utility partnerships deliver wins on both sides of the meter

By Dave Margolius, Solutions Developer | January 30, 2017

Considering the rapid pace of developments in behind-the-meter energy storage, we could fill post after post on GC Update with our experiences and insights into customer-sited battery-based systems. This time, however, I’d like to step out from behind the meter and give you a run down on the latest ways in which our energy storage solutions are contributing to the grid value chain.

Utilities across the United States and around the world are transforming the way they provision, market, and monetize their energy services. From one-way delivery of a centralized resource, energy services are evolving into trans active webs of supply and demand, as energy consumers take on a more active role as producers. Many Green Charge customers—retail chains, local governments and school districts—are deploying solar PV plants on their premises. They are looking to Green Charge’s battery-based energy storage systems (BESSs) not only to provide solar firming and reduce demand charges through peak shaving, but also to offer an additional source of revenue through participation in their local utilities’ demand-response and other load-balancing programs. Green Charge’s software can easily perform these services by integrating data from the BESS, solar PV systems, building management systems, and many other types of distributed energy resources (DERs). By applying advanced predictive algorithms to this data to forecast available power and energy, we can bid the aggregated DERs into the wholesale energy market.

It turns out that the utilities are interested in our systems for many of the same reasons consumers are. Here are two of the latest developments:

Northern California

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is conducting a pilot progam to evaluate how a variety of residential and commercial distributed energy resources (DERs) can be managed as part of a centralized distributed energy management system. On the commercial side—comprising 70 percent of the aggregated BESS capacity in the pilot—PG&E has turned to Green Charge to provide access to several of its customer-sited GridSynergy Systems on selected distribution feeders in San Jose.

Beginning early this year, Green Charge will combine storage resources at three customer locations for an aggregated 390 kW/780 kWh configuration. PG&E will be able to use Green Charge’s aggregated storage systems to test various DER management scenarios, such as feeder-level capacity reduction, voltage support, and forecasting for BESS capacities and loads.

It’s important to note here that the value for PG&E lies not just in the customer-sited resources, but also in the software intelligence and skills needed to manage them. Like most utilities, PG&E is primarily equipped and experienced in managing large-scale generation assets and finds it more practical to partner with experts such as Green Charge in the aggregation and management of small-scale customer-sited resources. In the context of the pilot, we’re helping PG&E by

  • Identifying and acquiring suitable customers for the pilot, saving PG&E time and staff resources.
  • Providing a turnkey DER. Designed, installed, and operated by Green Charge for a minimum of 10 years, the customer-sited energy storage systems offer PG&E a ready resource for the current pilot as well as a pre-qualified option for future testing and demonstrations.
  • Making it easy to access and control the aggregated resources, through standard communication protocols, such as SEP 2.0, and an intuitive user interface on our GridSynergy Platform.

Southern California

Two large utilities in Southern California recently tested a demand response auction mechanism (DRAM), which provides behind-the-meter resources access to participate in a capacity market. They enrolled 700 kW of energy storage from Green Charge—the largest chunk of capacity in this pilot’s inaugural year.

As the aggregator, Green Charge was given control of the demand response dispatches. Our objective was to co-optimize multiple services and revenue streams, reducing the host customer’s peak demand while also delivering resource adequacy to satisfy the utilities’ obligations to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

Soon, we will embark on another exciting utility program in Southern California: a technical measurement and verification (M&V) study to evaluate demand response capabilities, power output quality, and energy storage performance in a virtual power plant (VPP).

The VPP will be an aggregation of more than 14 MWh across 22 customer sites, with M&V performed on 29 unique metrics. An independent evaluator will verify the accuracy of our day-ahead and hour-ahead forecasting for the VPP, as well as the power output quality and peak-shaving performance of our GridSynergy Storage systems.

We are eager to share the results of all of these tests as soon as they are made public. And watch GC Update for more insights into our forays into VPPs and our serendipitously advantageous position in this exciting smart grid development.