New Deals for California Energy Storage Companies that Make Buildings into Virtual Power Plants

Oct. 13, 2015
California and Hawaii are about to see more transformation of buildings into a kind of virtual power plant with projects announced this week by two energy storage companies pushing the concept.

California and Hawaii are about to see more transformation of buildings into a kind of virtual power plant with projects announced this week by two energy storage companies pushing the concept.

Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) is working with real estate developer Irvine Company and SunEdison to create what it calls hybrid-electric buildings that will sell services to the grid. Meanwhile, Stem has a deal with Hawaiian Electric to install energy storage for the utility’s commercial customers, which will be used for grid stability.

AMS will install Tesla batteries in 24 office buildings in Irvine in the first phase of its project.

The large batteries, which will take up the equivalent of about five parking spaces at each building, will help serve the energy needs for each building, as well as sell services to the electric grid to reduce strain during periods of peak demand.

AMS expects the storage systems to provide Southern California Edison with up to 10 MW of reserve capacity, enough to supply power to 10,000 homes. The company plans to install the first units before year’s end.

SunEdison will finance, install and operate Tesla’s Powerpack commercial battery system in the buildings.

“SCE is tapping into the power of their own customers’ building load to manage the grid. This revolutionary partnership between a utility and its customers represents the future of the electric grid,” said Susan Kennedy, CEO at AMS.

Energy storage balances solar

On the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Stem is working with Hawaiian Electric to install 1 MW of energy storage through a $2.1-million pilot program backed by the company, utility and the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research.

The project began with installation of a 36-kW energy storage system at Watanabe Floral, a family-operated kamaaina company, and will expand to the Honolulu Museum of Art, Menehune Water and other Oahu organizations and businesses.

Like the AMS buildings, Stem’s customers will use data analytics to respond to spikes in electricity use, and draw on stored power to reduce costs.

The Stem program also is aimed at bringing greater grid stability to Hawaiian Electric as use of solar energy increases.

Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president for corporate planning and business development, said that the utility sees energy storage supported by intelligent software as “an increasingly essential component” of its business

Kimura added that the energy storage will allow the utility to modernize its system, integrate more renewables, create greater grid stability, and help the utility reach its renewable goals.

Track energy storage news by subscribing to the free Energy Efficiency Markets newsletter.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

Twitter: @ElisaWood

LinkedIn: Elisa Wood

Facebook:  Microgrids

Types of Microgrids

Dec. 4, 2023
No two microgrids are the same. Check out two types of microgrids with these real-life case studies.

Making Your Organization Carbon Neutral With Renewable Natural Gas

The growing importance of sustainability is cultivating demand for comprehensive energy solutions that can help organizations achieve their environmentally focused goals. Low-...