Tesla is pairing up with a Vermont utility provider to offer subsidized Powerwall battery packs to bolster its power grid and give customers a chance to harness its energy when other lights go out.
Vermont’s Green Mountain Power (GMP), a utility company with a decidedly environmental focus, will be the first power provider in the world to integrate Tesla’s system as a major part of its grid. GMP will install Tesla’s industrial Powerpacks on its own utility land and offer 2,000 of its customers 7 kW Powerwall 2 units for an extra $15 per month charge on their power bill or a one-time, $1,500 fee. The batteries store energy during off-peak hours, like nighttime, for later use, and typically cost up to $3,000.
GMP says it will harness the energy stored in the Powerpacks and customer-installed Powerwalls to provide its grid with an extra boost during peak usage times in an effort to lower costs for all of its customers. This network won’t just give the company an extra source of reliable energy it’ll help to cut down dependence on costly, “dirty” backup generators.
The Tesla batteries already proved successful for GMP on a small scale, when three customers with their own Powerwalls were able to keep their lights on during a storm that knocked the power out for 15,000 other GMP-powered homes.
The new partnership will look to leverage that reliable source of stored energy to a larger group of its customers.
“There hasnt been any really successful large-scale trial, so that’s why this is so exciting,” J.B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer, told local station WCAX-TV of the deal. “It’s been a potential, and on people’s minds for a lot of years, and it’s been in development at Tesla for quite some time, but this is our first real deployment.”
GMP was selected by Tesla especially for the project in no small part because of its green track record in a state that has embraced solar power.
“Vermont is, surprising to some people, but it’s one of the states with the highest penetration of solar power per capita in the country,” Straubel said to WCAX-TV. The state indeed ranks eighth in the nation’s ranks of solar capacity per capita at 270 watts per person, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Green Mountain Power is unique in their excitement to adopt this sooner than others, but the same technology and the same exact model is relevant, frankly, all over the world,” Straubel said. “So, you know, were already having some early discussions with other utilities and grid operators and our feeling is that this is possible a way that most storage will end up getting networked together in the future and I think it has a really exciting, you know, road map.”
Telsa also opened up preorders for its Solar Roof tiles last week, offering potential customers a means to generate their own energy at costs the company claims will be comparable or even lower than roofs made from traditional tiles. The Solar Roof system can use a Powerwall unit to store the energy it produces, but the two systems can work on their own.
GMP’s Powerwall initiative doesn’t require its customers to have access to solar energy production but admits in the program’s FAQs that customers with some sort of system in place “will get the most benefit from your home battery.”