APS to study smart home features including solar and batteries

Arizona Public Service (APS) is famous for being one of the first utilities to win the right to impose a discriminatory monthly fee on the rooftop PV systems deployed by its customers, as one of the first major victories by utilities in a war to recover more revenue under net metering.

But even as it resists customer-owned solar, APS is also studying how such systems, and the larger universe of behind-the-meter resources, function. As part of this effort, the utility is launching a pilot program to deploy rooftop solar PV on 75 homes, along with advanced inverters, energy management, high efficiency HVAC systems, smart thermostats and, in some cases, battery storage systems.

“The goal is to give us an understanding of how these smart technologies that our customers are installing interact with each other,” APS spokesperson Annie DeGraw told pv magazine. “It is part of a growing field of trying to understand the internet of things inside the home. Seeing how these products interact is what we are interested in.”

Deployment under the Solar Innovation Study will begin in December, and 10 of the homes will be equipped with 20 kWh Sunverge One home battery systems. Management of the batteries, PV and other systems will be accomplished through Sunverge’s Home Energy Management System, which the company has also deployed in pilot projects for two other U.S. utilities.

For customer,s there is a sweetener for participating in the study, as at the end of the 5-year period they will own the systems deployed.