California and New York (rightfully) get a lot of the press on their energy transitions - but they do not stand alone. Some of the biggest changes are happening in New England, where utilities of all shapes and sizes are working diligently to meet ambitious renewable energy targets while ensuring that the lights stay on.
WBUR, a National Public Radio affiliate station in Boston, recently aired an in-depth story called “New England’s Electric Power Grid Is Undergoing a Transformation.” It was one of the most comprehensive looks we've seen into the challenges and opportunities associated with making dramatic changes to an already dynamic grid.
Source: Screenshot from the EIA
The story was of particular interest to Virtual Peaker because of our engagement with some of the most innovative utilities in the region, including Green Mountain Power (GMP), Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC), and Belmont Light - located just outside of Boston. Many of these utilities are already controlling distributed energy resources (DERs) to manage a rapidly changing grid. These DERs include water heaters, thermostats, EV chargers, and residential battery systems.
Residential batteries are among those devices with the most promise. “The holy grail right now is storage,” according to Dan Dolan, president of the New England Power Generators Association, who is quoted extensively in the WBUR feature. He sees batteries as the saving grace for electric generators by increasing regional and local reliability while lowering the cost for ratepayers. Virtual Peaker is helping connect utilities to behind-the-meter devices that their customers already are buying to support and accelerate the energy transition.
In the nation's first battery-focused “BYOD” -- Bring Your Own Device – program, Virtual Peaker allows GMP to share access withe customers with a number of different battery manufacturers . The energy and capacity is then be used to reduce system costs for all customers. The program continues to grow, and has since been expanded into a number of other device types - including EV chargers and water heaters.
Virtual Peaker runs a real-time control system in the cloud, so we can run localized dispatch programs, shave system peaks, manage intermittency, and optimize the grid through smart devices.