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Sunnova expands VPP network in Puerto Rico and several states

Sunnova Energy International Inc. has announced investments and expansions in its virtual power plant (VPP) network in Puerto Rico, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Texas, among other regions. The company said its VPP initiatives are increasing access for customers to utilize stored battery power during peak demand times, while reducing grid emissions and decreasing costs. 

Its VPP programs use the Sunnova Sentient technology platform, which the company said optimizes energy use, improves grid support and offers greater energy independence to customers, and that, in certain cases, the systems allow for the return of surplus energy to the grid, minimizing blackouts and reducing reliance on traditional power plants during high demand.

In Puerto Rico, the Sunnova Flex Power Program manages more than 1,000 customers participating in electric utility LUMA Energy’s Battery Emergency Demand Response Program (BEDRP). Through the program, “approximately 10 megawatt-hours of capacity are provided to supplement LUMA’s resilience against power outages,” according to Sunnova.

Sunnova’s expanded VPP offerings in stateside programs include: the Power Grid Protect and Emergency Load Reduction Program in California; the Battery Reward incentive program in New York; the Connected Solutions Demand Response Programs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut; and the Adaptive Retail Energy Plan in Texas. 

“We are revolutionizing the role of solar and storage while putting money back into our customers’ pockets – and the response has been overwhelming,” said William Berger, Sunnova’s chief executive officer. “Our customer base of more than 419,000 comprises an estimated 1-gigawatt hour of storage capacity, and this vast clean power source will go a long way in supporting struggling grids, decarbonizing our energy systems, and compensating participating customers.”

“By voluntarily participating in the program through the Sunnova Flex Power Program, Sunnova customers play an active role in bolstering the grid and supporting a reliable power supply for Puerto Ricans,” the company emphasized. 

“Electricity demand is being driven to record levels and the power grid is not ready – but VPPs can offer critical help,” said Berger. “We see VPPs as insurance for the grid, as they are ready now to provide power in times of need and tackle the impending challenges ahead of a constrained electric system. We are proud to be expanding our VPP service to help customers combat the skyrocketing price of electricity and also shore up the grid in times of need.”

Sunnova explained that when the grid is under stress, it receives LUMA’s signal and “discharges enrolled battery storage via the Sunnova Sentient platform, reducing grid demand, minimizing blackouts, and keeping the power on.” 

As of March, the company said, its VPP has helped prevent five grid outages “that could have potentially impacted several hundred thousand homes on the island.” 

The VPP has also been used to provide additional reserve to the grid in moments when generation has been running below recommended reserves, the company said, adding, “Today’s announcement highlights how this success can be replicated across the country.”

Michael Grasso, chief revenue officer at Sunnova, emphasized the growing customer base and the significance of enrolling more customers into VPPs “to help improve the overall resilience of our country’s energy grids.”

Meghan Nutting, Sunnova’s executive vice president of Regulatory and Government Affairs added that, “as policymakers begin to see the success of existing VPP programs nationwide, they are rapidly moving to establish and implement similar VPP initiatives with the goal of enhancing grid resilience and saving ratepayers money amidst surging energy demands. With an impressive 24% battery attachment rate among new customer originations last quarter, our growing number of customers are primed to participate in VPP programs as they come online.”

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