Massive new battery projects buoy California's demand response programs

This week, three new lithium-ion battery projects with 77.5 megawatts of capacity came online which may signal paradigm shift in California's demand response efforts. The projects—in the territories of Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric—can power tens of thousands of homes for several hours and are the largest battery deployments in the world right now. If successful, these installations offer the utilities the option of storing solar energy mid-day for use in in early evening, when the grid is most strained. Traditionally during these peak hours, utilities have had to fire up expensive “peaker” power plants or call on customers to reduce demand. The batteries offer a clean, rapidly-deployable alternative to these approaches which has been made possible by dramatic price reductions over the past several years. This rapid price decline and ability of manufacturers to deliver on the project left California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker “stunned at the ability of batteries and the battery industry’s ability to meet our needs.”