Sunrun to support power cut-prone Bay Area with up to 20MW of solar-plus-storage

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Sunrun has signed deals with three community energy suppliers in the Bay Area to install up to 20MW of solar and battery backup power in households vulnerable to power cuts.

The US residential solar installer has secured partnerships with three Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) in California, which collectively provide power for around 1 million homes.

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The partnerships are with East Bay Community Energy, supplier of power to Alameda County; Silicon Valley Clean Energy, which provides power to Santa Clara County; and Peninsula Clean Energy, supplier of power to San Mateo County.

Sunrun said it will benefit from co-marketing initiatives and data-driven targeting enabled by the agreements, which can enhance the value provided to each customer. 

The partnerships initially target providing solar energy and emission-free backup power to up to 6,000 households over the next three years in areas prone to power cuts during wildfire season.

Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper said the deal represents a new model for a cleaner and more reliable electricity grid.

“The wildfires that disrupted our power and lives last fall have given us an opportunity to find ways to better protect our most vulnerable customers from losing essential supplies and comfort during emergency outages,” she said. “By partnering with Sunrun and our local non-profit agencies, we can identify those customers who can benefit the most from this programme.”

Sunrun said that in addition to providing backup power in case of a power cut at each home, the resources can be networked together to build virtual power plants (VPP), which can help reduce peak power demand and effectively enable the use of local resources to stabilise the operation of California’s electrical grid in real time.

The partnerships follow plans announced last month by Sunrun to aggregate 300 domestic solar-plus-storage installations in California into a single VPP, claiming it to be one of the US’ first residential VPPs.

Up to 300 of Sunrun’s Brightbox solar-plus-storage packages will be networked by the middle of 2021, providing peaking capacity to Southern California Edison’s managed grid. The systems will also be used to provide backup power in the result of grid outages and demonstrate the broader benefits of using VPPs to aid decarbonisation.

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