By Julian Spector
Portland General Electric, the largest utility in Oregon, is jumping into the cutting-edge business of turning home batteries into grid resources.
The company announced this week that it has received approval from regulators to link up 525 homes with solar-storage systems into a controllable fleet, often referred to as a virtual power plant. The five-year pilot will study how to optimize the use of these batteries for the grid, while ensuring the customers get what they want out of participating.
The fleet of small batteries will only add up to 4 megawatts. But it could lay the groundwork for expansion under PGE’s ongoing grid modernization plan, which envisions around 200 megawatts of “distributed flexibility” to balance supply and demand.
“This is part of our overall efforts to really understand distributed resources on our system,” said Andy Macklin, director of the utility's Smart Cities & Grid Products divisions. “We’re looking at a decarbonized future. As we add renewables to our system aggressively, we need a flexible distribution system where customers are excited to bring some of their flexibility to the system to help balance those renewables.”
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