Steve Peery, a Bolton, Vermont, resident who owns a 10-kilowatt Tesla Powerwall solar energy storage system, had a lot of reasons to join Vermont Electric Cooperative's innovative home battery program.
But a unique benefit to co-op members clinched the deal.
“I'd initially planned to sign up just because I think it is the right thing to do to support my community, lower our electricity cost and help the environment," said Peery. “Then discovering that it includes a substantial monthly credit to my electric bill made the program even more inviting."
Electric co-ops across the country have been active in energy storage to boost reliability and grid efficiency. As the residential battery market in Vermont grows, VEC hopes to tap into this local power supply to curb peak demand.
In exchange, VEC program participants can choose to receive a monthly bill credit of $6.40 per kW, or an upfront payment of $268 per kW and a monthly bill credit of $3.20 per kW. That means a member with a 5-kW battery would receive a $32 monthly bill credit or an upfront payment of $1,340 and a $16 monthly credit.
“We're really excited to be offering this new partnership option for our members," said Rebecca Towne, CEO of the Johnson-based co-op. “Home battery systems can increase members' resilience, and when they are willing to share stored energy in their batteries with VEC when they don't need it, it can help the co-op as a whole save money."
So far, 11 households with 16 batteries totaling 80 kW have enrolled in the program. This capacity will help reduce steep costs to the co-op from the New England power market's annual peak and Vermont's monthly peak.
Under the program, VEC notifies participants at least four hours in advance of a peak event, which may last two to four hours. The co-op won't draw below 20% of a battery's capacity and is limited to a total of 40 kilowatt-hours per month. The program carries a 10-year commitment, but members may forfeit their incentives to opt out of peak events.
VEC is using Virtual Peaker and Tesla's Grid Logic to tap energy from the residential batteries and add it to the co-op's supply mix. Eligible battery designs include Generac PWRcell, Sonnen and Tesla Powerwall. More types are expected to be added.
Towne said the batteries will help create a lower-emission electric supply and bolster resilience.
“This program is one more way that VEC is joining forces with our members to participate in the evolution of the grid," she said.