Pacific Gas & Electric calls for participation in Tesla virtual power plant pilot


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is  looking for Powerwall owners to opt into Emergency Load Reduction Program (ELRP) pilot, allowing Powerwalls to be dispatched when the grid needs emergency support.

Eligible participants own a Powerwall with or without solar, must be PG&E customers, and must have a valid Rule 21 interconnection agreement. They also must not be enrolled in a conflicting program that may include another Virtual Power Plant (VPP) or a demand response program run by PG&E, a Community Choice Aggregator or another program.

One of the benefits of participation is the simple satisfaction of  being part of a pilot program that may help stabilize California’s grid. PG&E estimates that there are potentially 50,000 Powerwall users in its territory, and by combining them, this pilot could form the largest distributed battery resource in the world. For Powerwall users concerned about whether they will have the backup they need while participating in an emergency event, PG&E noted that the owner’s Powerwall will discharge during VPP events but won’t discharge below the owner’s backup reserve.

Virtual Power Plants are an essential part of California’s clean energy future and a valuable resource for supporting grid reliability. PG&E has had VPPs in some form for the past 15 years and we continue actively integrating VPP resources (such as smart thermostats and batteries) into our energy supply portfolio. With Tesla’s participation in PG&E’s Emergency Load Reduction Program, we are further integrating behind-the-meter battery energy storage based VPPs on the largest scale yet, said Paul Doherty, marketing and communications, PG&E.

Under the pilot, Tesla and PG&E will call upon the Virtual Power Plant when the California grid operator, CAISO, declares an alert, warning or emergency in response to challenging grid conditions. To meet the minimum of 20 hours of events needed to run the pilot, Tesla and PG&E may also call events at other times.

Participants will be notified when an event is scheduled. Sometimes the notification will be sent 24 hours in advance, but some circumstances may not allow for much notice. A participant may choose to opt out of any individual event. When the event begins, the owner receives a push notification reminding them of the event end time, and their Powerwall will begin discharging to support the grid. It will continue to discharge until the event ends, or when it discharges to the owner’s selected Backup Reserve level. After the event the owner’s Powerwall will resume normal operation.

The Tesla and PG&E ELRP pilot will compensate Powerwall owners $2 for every additional kWh that the Powerwall delivers during an event beyond typical behavior. Compensation depends on the participating energy capacity of the owner’s system, which depends on the number of Powerwalls and their Backup Reserves.

PG&E provided an example compensation scenario: A one-Powerwall system with a backup reserve of 20% that is fully charged at the start of an event has 13.5 kWh * (100% to 20%) = 10.8 kWh to contribute during that event. If this system would typically serve 3 kWh of energy during the event hours, fully dispatching the Powerwall down to the Backup Reserve would deliver 7.8 kWh of additional kWh. At $2 per kWh, this could be worth $15.60 for this event.

For more information or to sign up, Powerwall owners can go to the Tesla app.


This was amended on June 28 to add the quote from Paul Doherty of PG&E.

This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: