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E&E News: Northeast embraces first-of-a-kind virtual power plant

Posted by Miranda Willson on Oct 13, 2022

E&E News reported on the announcement from AEE member company Sunrun that it had become the first company to provide power to customers through the use of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) in a regional energy market. AEE's Caitlin Marquis explained why the development was so important, and what still needs to happen in ISO-NE and in other regional energy markets to make VPP use more common. Read snippets below and the full article here.

New England became the first regional energy market to use a virtual power plant this summer, with thousands of home solar and battery storage projects exporting power to the grid.Solar giant Sunrun announced on Tuesday that it had succeeded in providing power to customers in June, July and August through a virtual power plant that combined an estimated 5,000 small-scale solar energy systems in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The systems, which included solar panels on homes, were paired with batteries to store excess solar power, which could then be shared with the grid when energy demand was high.

Virtual power plants aren’t new. Tesla Inc., for example, has sought to allow customers with its home battery storage systems to participate in Texas’ main grid market. But Sunrun’s program demonstrates that virtual power plants can deliver in multistate power markets, as opposed to simply at the utility or retail electricity level, said Caitlin Marquis, director at Advanced Energy Economy

“It’s important to the region’s energy transition to start to have these resources provide capacity to the markets,” Marquis said. “Having these resources participate in the wholesale market increases visibility to the grid operator to know these resources are available.”

There are still challenges and barriers to including virtual power plants in grid markets nationwide and in ISO New England, said Marquis of Advanced Energy Economy.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has sought to remove these barriers through a new rule, known as Order 2222, that requires regional transmission organizations to allow full participation of distributed energy resources. But several regional grid operators have not yet filed plans that comply with the rule, Marquis said.

Read the full article here.

Topics: AEE In The News, Caitlin Marquis