Swell Energy readies solar-plus-storage VPP offer for SCE customers ahead of wildfire season


The VPPs are designed to help lower the costs of storage and boost resiliency as Californians prepare for wildfire season and the resulting power outages. Image: Office of the Governor of California.

Solar-plus-storage is on offer from Swell Energy to Southern California Edison (SCE) customers enrolling in its two virtual power plant (VPP) programs, which are set to boost local resilience.

Available to 8,000 customers in the Orange County, Ventura County and Santa Barbara County neighbourhoods who are interested in installing solar powered batteries, the programs are offering home batteries for a low fixed monthly payment and a second home battery at a reduced price.

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This is designed to offer customers and their communities greater resiliency and benefits from onsite backup power, with Swell in particular citing the wildfire risk of the Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, which also experience more frequent Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

Wildfires in the US state have been known to wreak havoc for electricity supply, with increased solar-plus-storage a solution suggested by Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar & Storage Association, following a series of wildfires in August 2020 that saw CAISO declare a state-wide Stage 2 Emergency and appeal to consumers to conserve energy to avert or limit power outages.

Across the Santa Barbara and Ventura VPP program, Swell is actively recruiting 6,000 homes and small businesses to create over 14MW of capacity and demand response capabilities for a ten year period. It was developed in response to Senate Bill 801, which directed SCE to deploy energy storage to help regions affected by the partial shutdown of the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility.

The Orange County VPP program, meanwhile, is actively enrolling 2,000 residents and small business to create a 20MWh clean energy resource. It will provide renewable energy to help meet increased demand from new home development without needing to build new or continue running existing fossil fuel peaker plants, as well as helping to fill the capacity shortfall resulting from the decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in 2013. It will deliver energy to SCE customers during peak demand periods for the next fifteen years.

Homeowners in both VPP programs are also able to arbitrage both retail and wholesale energy rates and achieve an accelerated payback on their energy system, with the addition of a second battery to the system further increasing participating levels in the VPP while also expanding power security on site.

Suleman Khan, CEO of Swell Energy, said: “Swell VPPs ensure homeowners receive the maximum value from their home battery, and that utility VPP sponsors and adopters benefit from a large fleet of strategically placed batteries. Our ongoing energy programs with SCE are great models for the future of our electric grid in general.”

Swell’s VPP program began operating earlier this year, and is set to ramp up over the following year.

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