How California Utilities Are Managing Excess Solar Power
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
California utilities are testing new ways to network solar panels, battery storage, two-way communication devices and software to create “virtual power plants” that manage green power and feed it into the power grid as needed. The Golden State is ramping up renewable energy as it pledges to be a bulwark against the Trump administration’s pro-fossil fuel policies. But first, it has to figure out what to do with all the excess power it generates when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
Entergy Arkansas selected energy management solutions firm Comverge to provide ancillary services for its demand response program. Entergy Arkansas said it will provide the utility with its solution IntelliSOURCE Enterprise, which includes field, customer and marketing services for the utility's demand response program.
SCE this week issued a request for offers, seeking a variety of renewable and distributed energy resources to increase reliability in an at-risk portion of the grid. The utility is seeking between 15 MW and 55 MW of resources, including energy storage, demand response, permanent load shift, combined heat and power, fuel cells, solar PV paired with energy storage and renewable distributed generation.
PSE&G filed a proposal with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to expand its energy efficiency programs. PSE&G said it has put a proposal forth to invest $74 million towards expanding the rollout of three of its energy efficiency programs and introduce two new projects to help consumers reduce their energy consumption and costs.
Utility proposals for customer prepayment plans, are on the rise. These payment plans require customers to pay in advance for their utility services and, if they run out of prepaid credit, they are remotely disconnected from service until they top up their credit. While utilities can benefit from these plans, many consumer advocates are concerned about these plans’ effects on health and safety, particularly for low-income participants.
Consumers Energy launched a new demand response program to help residential customers with smart meters reduce energy usage and costs. Consumers Energy said its new demand response program, Peak Power Savers, aims to help the utility to meet peak demand. Under the initiative, Consumers Energy will introduce Time of Use energy pricing in which energy tariffs will be high during peak demand periods and low when energy demand on the grid network is low.
The smart city project will be deployed in partnership with technology companies GE, AT&T and Intel. The smart city program will include the replacement of some 14,000 existing streetlights with energy efficient LED models to help the city reduce its energy bills and carbon emissions. The smart LED streetlights will be remotely monitored and operated using GE’s data analytics technology.
The wise utility belongs to the smart city. And vice versa -- if it’s done right. A group of leaders and consultants argued their case at DistribuTECH in San Diego that utilities need to position themselves for opportunities in the hyper-connected Smart City-Internet of Things realm.