Energy provider PearlX Infrastructure and SolarEdge are collaborating on a series of residential clean energy projects for renters throughout Texas. ‘Project TexFlex’ intends to deploy community solar & storage virtual power plants (VPPs). The first will be installed the first quarter of 2022 in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston, with several other installations planned across Texas, California and other US states throughout 2022.
Described by PearlX as a “win-win-win,” each VPP provides load-serving and resiliency benefits to consumers, royalty and income streams for its multi-family real estate partners, and flexibility and capacity services to the Texas energy market, enabling utilities to leverage and control a previously untapped pool of available distributed energy resources to support grid stabilization.
As owner and operator of the project, PearlX will purchase hardware and cloud-based grid services technology from SolarEdge, while SolarEdge will provide design and engineering support. The plan is to expand the initiative to other locations in Texas.
PearlX uses an underwriting method that allows tenant subscribers who live within TexFlex properties to access the rewards of solar generation and battery storage without the obligation to present an industry-defined adequate credit score.
“Mainstream solar and especially storage has traditionally been an amenity for the wealthy. If you don’t have good credit, you don’t have access,” said Michael Huerta, CEO of PearlX. “Credit is the ability to repay. Electricity is the ability to live. Payment for electricity we believe is the highest form of credit.” Huerta added, “When you look at the data, electric bills are paid before rent, cell phone bills, even car payments.”
Project TexFlex has the capability to reduce grid strain and outages, while increasing energy resilience across the state. This is particularly valuable in the wake of the extreme cold weather event in Texas last February, which placed grids under huge strain and caused mass power outages. Onsite solar will send energy back to the grid in near real-time, and utilities are provided with access to stored power when grid stabilization is needed or during energy shortages.
For participating tenants, in addition to having access to low-cost solar power to reduce their own carbon footprint and electricity bills, they will also gain onsite grid resiliency to help power their home during blackouts, and can simultaneously further reduce energy costs by participating in demand/response events or time-of-use arbitrage programs, where excess solar is diverted to help support the grid.
The VPPs will use the SolarEdge energy hub inverter and new energy bank battery. SolarEdge’s software for grid services also enables behind-the-meter VPPs to receive and respond to onsite and grid level signals.
PearlX awarded an EPC contract to Austin-based Native Solar to design and construct Project TexFlex. The project is under construction and will be interconnecting through an agreement with CenterPoint Energy in the first quarter of 2022. The plan is that after successfully deploying in Texas, the project will continue in California and several other US states later in the year.
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