Tesla Powerwall owners can sell stored electricity back to the grid
Beyond Tesla’s electric vehicles, the company has also been delving into the clean energy world for quite some time. Tesla Powerwalls let owners store energy generated from solar panels, and a new program even lets owners sell this energy back to the electrical grid.
Above: Tesla's Virtual Power Plant can help provide solar power back to the electrical grid during outages. Photo: Tesla
Owners of Tesla’s Powerwall can now re-sell their stored electricity back to California’s grid as part of the Virtual Power Plant program, Benzinga reports. The program is being piloted right now in partnership with PG&E for Northern Californians, and it recently expanded south in a partnership with Southern California Edison.
The program was initially launched last year in California, and the first emergency response event occurred just weeks ago. During the event, over 2,600 homes in Northern California contributed electricity to the grid, while Southern California saw over 250 homes contributing.
The result of these thousands of Tesla Powerwalls essentially creates a giant distributed battery that can be drawn upon in times of peak power usage, or high demand during heatwaves or other extreme weather events. In the recent event, the energy contributions eased the strain on California’s grid during a period of high demand, which could also feasibly reduce the need for fossil fuel-burning plants down the road.
The program is voluntary, but it also rewards contributing homes with credits toward their utility providers. Before the recent event, Tesla contacted Powerwall owners to give them a chance to opt-out. Owners were also allowed to maintain how much the Powerwall discharges, so they can keep however much they want for their own backup reserves.
The Virtual Power Plant program pays participants at a rate of $2 per kWh of energy given back to the grid, which means Powerwall owners could end up with between $10 and $60 per event.
With Tesla’s EVs entering markets worldwide, the renewable energy program also begs the question of how the world can power the next generation of cars. The U.S. government is working on a public EV charging infrastructure, and even Tesla’s Superchargers are expanding rapidly, though most are still powered with coal — for now.
Tesla is also working with utility providers in Texas to set up a similar Virtual Power Plant program in the state. Additionally, Tesla has Virtual Power Plant programs running in South Australia and Victoria, both with similar ideas to the California pilot.
It’s not yet clear where Tesla will launch its Virtual Power Plant program next. But with the world facing increasingly frequent climate events putting pressure on the electrical grid, the deployment of the program can’t come soon enough.