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SMUD Announces New Residential Virtual Power Plant Initiative

Dec. 22, 2022
The initiative, which begins enrollment in Q1 2023, will aggregate residential solar and battery storage systems in a centralized manner to reduce carbon emissions and create a more renewable, resilient and reliable grid.

To help meet its 2030 Zero Carbon Plan to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its power supply, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), has entered into an agreement with Swell Energy (Swell). Per the agreement, Swell will act as the aggregator for SMUD’s new My Energy Optimizer Partner+ program—a residential customer-driven virtual power plant initiative.

The virtual power plant (VPP) program is one of the most advanced initiatives underway in California to aggregate residential solar and battery storage systems, in a centralized manner, to reduce carbon emissions, according to SMUD and Swell. The program will also be used to create a more renewable, resilient, and reliable grid. The My Energy Optimizer Partner+ program enables customers to operate their individual solar and battery storage systems alongside many others to aggregate and dispatch renewable energy sources to benefit their communities. Participating My Energy Optimizer Partner+ customers will receive both upfront and ongoing compensation, or GridRevenue™, based on the capacity of their solar and energy storage systems.

“As more SMUD customers add solar panel systems paired with battery storage solutions, they’ll be better able to manage their own energy needs while making meaningful contributions toward reducing their community’s carbon footprint,” said Lora Anguay, Chief Zero Carbon Officer of SMUD. “We are excited to partner with Swell to make this program a reality in 2023 and continue to deliver on our decarbonization plan, which promises environmental protection, excellence in grid resiliency and reliability, affordable rates, and local economic and workforce growth opportunities that benefit the entire region.”

Currently, there are approximately 600 customer-sited energy storage systems in SMUD’s service area, with an additional 400 in the interconnection process and thousands more projected over the next several years. The success of programs like the My Energy Optimizer Partner+ is based not only on total enrollment but also on the additional job opportunities created for local installers and on the socially equitable impact of the program. Accordingly, SMUD has committed to funding batteries for low-income customers in the service area through local non-profits such as Grid Alternatives.

“We’re honored to work with SMUD towards the achievement of their Carbon Zero 2030 plan through the deployment of a multifaceted virtual power plant across SMUD territory and the overall CAISO grid,” said Suleman Khan, CEO of Swell Energy. “Our collaborative virtual power plant will provide real-time energy management and synchronized battery dispatch across SMUD’s customer base, enabling large-scale renewable deployment and minimizing the need for conventional power plants in the region. We believe this model is a beacon for how municipal utilities and other publicly owned utilities can achieve scale and value with distributed energy resources.”

My Energy Optimizer Partner+ will launch enrollments in Q1 of 2023, with operations planned to start in April 2023. Enrollment will be open to both new and existing solar and storage customers.

As the nation’s sixth-largest, community-owned, not-for-profit electric service provider, SMUD has been providing low-cost, reliable electricity to Sacramento County for more than 75 years. SMUD is a recognized industry leader and award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. In 2020, SMUD’s power supply was more than 60 percent carbon free and SMUD has a goal to reach zero carbon in its electricity supply by 2030.

In addition, SMUD is the host utility for T&D World Live, which will take place September 12-14, 2023, in Sacramento. “T&D World is excited to be partnering with one of the country’s most-forward thinking and innovative utilities. We look forward to working with its management and employees to create a program that includes highlights of some of those innovate programs,” said Teresa Hansen, T&D World’s vice president of content.  

Swell Energy is an energy management and smart grid solutions provider focused on accelerating the mass adoption of distributed clean energy technologies by enabling consumers to take control of their energy use and cost, achieve energy security, and participate in the transactive grid. Swell Energy provides homeowners and businesses with financing and virtual power plant programs while partnering with trusted local solar and solar+storage companies. Swell Energy also delivers resilient VPP networks and grid balancing services to utilities.

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