Sunrun and grid replacement are working together to provide free energy storage systems for low-income residents in California’s wildfire prone areas, and the announcement comes at the right time. California is facing the triple threat of wildfire, heat wave and alternating blackout. Low income residents are most affected by these three threats, but they are the least likely to afford standby power.
Lynn jurich, sunrun’s chief executive, said adding more independent energy storage to the grid meant less power was transmitted through wires in fire prone areas.
On the partner’s side, sunrun, the top residential installation company, will provide the brightbox battery system to low-income families as a stand-alone device to charge from the grid. The system uses a Tesla Powerwall battery with a rated power of 5 kW and 13.5 kwh, which is enough to ensure that the basic lights and appliances can still work normally after a few hours of power failure, and the mobile phone can also be charged. Ten years of monitoring and maintenance will also be included.
The partner’s first target is the Los Angeles area and the San Joaquin Valley in central California, where grid has started working with community organizations to expand potential customers.
Sunrun and grid are both installing independent batteries for the first time, but they also pose a thorny problem. Grid is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing solar energy to poor communities. Why shouldn’t the largest for-profit and non-profit solar energy installers in the United States choose more flexible solutions to provide complete solar energy and energy storage systems for vulnerable low-income customers?
The answer lies in California’s battery incentive program and the stock elastic divestiture program, which are used to fund free batteries. The generous award of $1000 per kilowatt can only be used for storage, and only low-income residents in wildfire or blackout prone areas are eligible for the award by state standards. According to the project website, by 2024, the state’s total capital for equity flexible incentive will reach 612 million US dollars.
“Energy storage is critical to energy equity,” Lynn jurich, sunrun’s chief executive, said in a partnership statement He pointed out that low-income families face complex challenges in maintaining lighting in emergencies or extreme weather conditions.
According to a study by the California Energy Commission, low-income families in the state may spend three times as much on energy as high-income people, but they can’t afford air conditioning or heating. Long time power failure may also lead to deterioration of food and medicine, and the cost of replacing these food and medicine is very expensive.
Sunrun describes the greater benefits of residential stand-alone batteries to the grid. In California, at least, 30% of the batteries charged by the grid during the peak solar output in the daytime still come from clean energy, essentially absorbing excess solar energy like a sponge.
Storing energy where it is used can also reduce the risk to utility companies and the communities they serve, reducing peak demand and thus reducing the amount of electricity that is delivered over long distances through transmission lines in drought and fire prone areas, the company said. Pacific Gas and electric, California’s largest utility, recently emerged from an 18 month bankruptcy. The company paid high compensation to victims of catastrophic fires caused by its equipment in 2017 and 2018.
Despite its second quarter loss, sunrun’s partnership with grid and its move into the independent storage business indicate that the company continues to expand its position as the largest U.S. residential installer and explore new growth options. In addition to the merger with vivint, sunrun recently announced a joint venture with SK E & s of South Korea to develop household electrification technologies and systems.