The New Green Grid: Utilities Deploy ‘Virtual Power Plants’
The August report of Environment 360, a publication of Yale University, featured comments by Olivine CEO Beth Reid.
The tens of thousands of tons of natural gas that surged into the Southern California sky late last year were supposed to have fueled the region’s power plants and heated its homes. Instead, the massive leak at the Aliso Canyon storage site left California electricity providers racing to replace the lost supplies to avoid blackouts and recurring outages in the coming months.
But Los Angeles area utilities aren’t solely seeking more fossil fuels to fill the gap in natural gas. They are also turning to “virtual power plants”: sprawling networks of independent batteries, solar panels, and energy-efficient buildings that are tied together and remotely controlled by software and data systems. The goal of these virtual power plants is to collectively reduce customers’ energy demand at peak hours and provide renewable energy supplies in targeted areas. This would allow utilities to offset some of the needs for power from conventional sources and avoid disruption on the grid.