Renewable Energy Vermont and Green Mountain Power are expanding a joint program on battery power sharing for power customers.
The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, launched last year, aims to increase grid connectivity to people with home-owned battery storage. The program will potentially cut costs for all customers.
“This is the largest upfront incentive from a utility in the country being offered to people with home batteries,” GMP spokesperson Kristin Kelly said. “It’s a great option for customers who are getting home battery storage, they can get upfront payment or discount on the purchase of the battery.”
Until now, the program only offered credit on power bills. Starting this month, it will include upfront rebates upon the battery purchase. Another new option is customers can share power from electric vehicle chargers.
The hope is to alleviate pressure on the power grid, which is increasingly under strain due to today’s high power demands. Peak demands occur during very cold or hot weather, when devices such as air conditioners run constantly.
“The incentive pays for itself in the savings GMP will generate through reducing that peak power demand. GMP passes those cost savings on to all customers,” a company press release states.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott commented on the program.
“I’m proud of our leadership in energy innovation and this is another great example of Vermont companies collaborating to produce a stronger economy by lowering energy costs and addressing climate change,” he said. “This type of program — where every homeowner can participate — not only benefits those living here now, but reflects the ingenuity of our state as we work to attract more families.”
Olivia Campbell Andersen, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, also commented on the program.
“Working together while also saving money through renewable energy technologies is the way to meet our climate commitments and create more resilient communities,” she said. “Vermonters can work with any of our local business REV members and GMP, and also choose among several different connected products to participate.”
The new incentive gives participating customers $850 per kilowatt of energy storage. GMP states in areas where grid pressure is greatest, it’s offering an additional $150 per kilowatt to solar owners who share battery power. Customers who share their EV chargers will get $10 per month credit on their bill.
Carole McCay, a SunCommon solar customer, bought a home battery from SunCommon for the program. She spoke at a news conference on Tuesday.
“I haven’t paid an electric bill since I installed solar and I’m delighted that I can now share some of my extra stored energy with Green Mountain Power during peak demand times,” she said.
Ansley Bloomer, assistant director of Renewable Every Vermont, told True North there has been an uptick in participants since the expansion.
“I believe it is the first program of its type — definitely a cutting edge program,” she said. “We’re really excited to be able to participate and I think that homeowners could really benefit.”
Bloomer said the program is not specific to any particular brand of battery, as long it can store power for the grid. She did note the program is specific for GMP customers.
According to Kelly, customers can specify the amount of energy to commit from the battery. If there is an outage expected from an incoming storm, there will be a notification from GMP to let customers know in advance.
“The idea is people would have the battery when you need it for outages, like from a storm, so we wouldn’t fully deplete your battery,” she said.
Regarding EV chargers, Kelly said the customer can share access when peak grid demand is predicted, which allows the utility to turn down the flow to the charger and lower grid pressure.
Marcia Blomberg, media relations for ISO New England, commented on the growing use of batteries with the grid.
“The growing development of energy storage linked with renewable resources is promising to help with the integration of resources with intermittent output, with small behind-the-meter storage installations on homes and businesses helping to smooth out demand for power from the regional grid, and with increased storage availability helping enhance power system reliability,” she wrote in an email.
Annette Smith, director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, has lived off of renewable power and batteries over three decades. She said the batteries are one of the more expensive components of a home system, costing around several thousand dollars.
“The reality of batteries is that they have limited capacity, and if you are trying to manage your own system, you don’t want anyone dipping into your batteries,” she said.
She said she would like more details on the overall economics of the program before saying if it’s something she would recommend.
Space in the program is limited. When enrollment reaches 2 megawatts of storage or about 600 customers, GMP will not take on new customers.