Bring-Your-Own-Batteries and EV Chargers: The Future of Distributed Energy Integration?

Distributed energy resources including rooftop solar, smart thermostats, behind-the-meter batteries, smart inverters and electric vehicle chargers have value for the customers installing them — and for the utilities seeing them proliferate across their distribution grids. 

But how can utilities and customers agree on sharing these potential values? In its  latest research , Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables highlights how answering these questions is a key part of capturing the full value of behind-the-meter assets as they grow to gigawatt scale on U.S. power grids.

"Bring-your-own-device ” (BYOD) programs are one way to bridge this divide between customer and utility. Utilities like the BYOD concept because it avoids more expensive approaches, like rate-basing the costs of paying customers to install distributed energy resources. And customers seem to like them — at least when the programs combine lucrative-enough incentives with a utility approach that doesn’t infringe on controlling their own home energy as they see fit. 

Brooklyn, New York-based EnergyHub has focused on the BYOD approach for years now, from its early days as a software provider for smart thermostats and  home energy controllers  to its more recent work on integrating  solar inverters , batteries, EV chargers and grid-responsive water heaters . 

Some of its 40+ utility partners are pushing the BYOD concept into new areas. In the past six months, the subsidiary  has made significant strides in two classes of DERs — behind-the-meter batteries and grid-responsive EV chargers — that could serve as models for reducing DER integration costs and complexities for the rest of the industry. 

Bring-your-own battery (and smart inverter) program with National Grid 

Since early 2018, EnergyHub has been working with utility National Grid to allow customers to enroll their own  solar-charged battery  systems in the utility’s “ConnectedSolutions” program in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. National Grid pays customers to allow it to tap the batteries’ stored energy during peak summer afternoons for demand response events and pays them for the performance they provide. 

After a slow start in 2018, the bring-your-own-battery program picked up steam last year, with customers responding to an average of 40 events through the season, Paul Wassink, National Grid’s demand response program manager, said in a  May webinar . In exchange, they are paid $400 per kilowatt-hour of discharge as averaged over the course of the year, with annual payments of up to $2,000 for customers able to deliver up to 5 kilowatts per hour per event. 

National Grid boosted those incentives from its first year to entice more customers, he said. But the program has proven successful and cost-effective enough to earn permanent status from Rhode Island regulators, while Massachusetts regulators are weighing making it...

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