Sunrun was selected by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to deploy a 17 MW network of solar-plus-storage virtual power plants (VPP) across the Caribbean island. The VPP network marks the first large-scale distributed storage program on the island to date.
Prone to repeat hurricanes over the past few years, Puerto Rico’s VPP network will harden the island’s power grid by networking more than 7,000 Sunrun residential solar plus energy storage systems.
The Governing Board of PREPA approved the terms of the VPP agreement on October 26, and the agreement is subject to further review by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau and the Fiscal Oversight Management Board.
Sunrun will enroll new Puerto Rico customers throughout 2023 in order to begin the VPP network dispatches in 2024. According to Sunrun, customers will benefit from on-site and back-up power cost savings, as well as receive compensation for providing battery storage back into PREPA’s power grid, creating grid resiliency. New customers who enroll in the VPP network can opt out at any time under the 10-year program, the company says.
“We’re solving energy insecurity on the island by switching the model so that solar energy is generated on rooftops and stored in batteries to power each home, and then shared with neighbors, creating a clean shared energy economy,” said Mary Powell, Sunrun CEO.
Following the destructive Hurricane Maria of 2017, the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act was passed by Puerto Rico’s government in April 2019 which created a framework for the installation of distributed generation resources such as solar and battery storage.
More than 3 million Puerto Rico residents were without power following Hurricane Fiona’s landfall on Puerto Rico on September 17, while Sunrun customers on the island were able to use power through extended outages, providing more than 350,000 hours of backup power to thousands of homes.
According to the EIA, renewable energy represented just 3% of Puerto Rico’s power mix through 2021, with the island generating the majority of its electricity from natural gas, oil and coal.
VPP systems allow utilities to provide power from local renewable energy resources rather than conventional power plants during daily peak power intervals and in emergency events, while allowing residential customers to participate by utilizing their home solar and storage systems to support grid resiliency.
Sunrun participates in more than 12 U.S. VPP networks, with its VPP systems provided 1.1 and 1.8 GWh of energy to local grids during recent extreme weather conditions.
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