Sunrun Inc., a home solar, battery storage and energy services company, recently won a bid to deliver home solar and batteries as a source of energy capacity to ISO New England, the grid operator for one of the largest electricity markets in the United States.
San Francisco, California-based Sunrun’s participation in New England’s capacity market is the first time in the United States that home solar and battery storage has directly participated alongside centralized power plants in a wholesale capacity market. This signals a shift away from the traditional, more polluting centralized electricity model, with big power plants, toward a system powered by local clean energy like home solar and batteries.
Sunrun won its bid to provide 20 megawatts (MW) of energy capacity from Sunrun’s Brightbox home solar and battery systems to Holyoke, Massachusetts-based ISO New England, from 2022. About 5,000 New England customers would be get Sunrun energy.
Sunrun’s Brightbox home solar and battery system can power homes round the clock with clean energy and provide backup power during a grid outage. Brightbox can also deliver power to homes when demand for electricity is at its highest, reducing the need to fall back on polluting power plants at peak times. By bundling and coordinating the energy stored in thousands of Sunrun’s Brightbox home battery systems, Sunrun can further reduce the need for expensive and dirty power, and allow New England’s grid to shift towards a system powered by more affordable, reliable and locally generated energy.
Sunrun’s participation in the auction signifies the growing importance of home solar and batteries and will lower electricity costs for all New England ratepayers. Participation also opens a new revenue stream for Sunrun which will enable the company to further lower costs to its customers. Home solar and batteries can also reduce the need for expensive electricity infrastructure, such as new transmission lines.
“Winning a bid in a forward capacity market validates the ability of home solar and battery storage to bring the benefits of clean, renewable energy to New England residents and throughout the country. Sunrun can deploy and manage solar and battery systems that meet the operational requirements of the Independent System Operators (ISO) market, while also delivering energy savings and backup power to families,” said Audrey Lee, head of energy services at Sunrun. “We commend ISO New England and state policymakers for their clear national leadership in incorporating home solar and batteries into energy markets.”
In 2016, Sunrun and National Grid’s unregulated business embarked on a multifaceted partnership that includes a jointly staffed collaboration to develop grid services with Sunrun’s solar and storage assets. “Today’s announcement points to the success of our ongoing collaboration with Sunrun. ISO New England is the first Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) to enable participation for hybrid resources, which truly unlocks a future for a renewables-powered grid. ISO-NE’s thorough vetting process is a high bar to cross for Sunrun, and we’re excited that our team helped make this happen. National Grid has long believed in the key role of distributed energy and we are proud to partner with Sunrun,” said Daniel Westerman, president of distributed energy and renewables at Waltham, Massachusetts-based National Grid.
Through its capacity auction, ISO New England awards the lowest-cost energy generators with commitments to supply electricity across six New England States, one of the most populated regions in the country. Companies must meet rigorous standards to qualify to participate in the auction. Historically, this has meant large, expensive and polluting power plants providing electricity to meet the needs of New England residents — something the region is now beginning to move away from.
New England states like Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island have led the country with smart energy policy that has enabled home solar and batteries to grow.