Elon Musk's latest thought is to avoid blackouts in California through Tesla's Powerwalls and the deal with local power company PG&E. The billionaire also provided an economic reward for the participants. All the details
Elon Musk intervened against the fear of a California blackout and signed an agreement with the local electricity company Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) with his Tesla. The partnership provides that the owners of Powerwall, a battery system made by Tesla that stores electricity generated by solar panels and acts as an autonomous generator, will be paid in exchange for their surplus electricity in the event of a blackout or emergency. MUSK'S IDEA Tesla, which in addition to electric cars develops photovoltaic panels and energy storage systems, has announced a program designed for Californian owners of its Powerwall home batteries. By signing up you become part of what the company calls Virtual Power Plant (VVP). "Join the world's largest distributed battery and help keep California's energy clean and reliable. If you join Tesla's Virtual Power Plant with PG&E, your Powerwall will be sent when the network needs emergency support," the announcement reads. By participating in the project, in fact, you agree to make available to the electricity grid – especially in periods when demand is high – the extra electricity produced by batteries to compensate for the shortcomings and avoid blackouts. THE REWARD Musk, however, also thought of a reward: "Thanks to the pilot program to reduce the emergency load [of the public network, ed], you will receive 2 dollars for each additional kWh provided by your Powerwall". Charging the battery from PG&E's network generally costs less than $0.50 per kilowatt-hour. For every kilowatt-hour that a person's battery subtracts from the system's demand during these events, participants will be paid $2. "At the end of the season, typically towards the end of the year, PG&E will calculate the contribution and payment of the incentive based on Powerwall data. Payment will be made by Tesla and is expected by the end of March 2023." HOW DOES THAT WORK After joining the project, users can set a minimum reserve, under which, even in an emergency, the software will not allow the battery to go down, while in the event of a network failure, the reserve could be used regardless. Tesla and PG&E will resort to the "virtual power plant" when California's network operator, California Independent System Operator (CAISO), declares an alarm, alert or emergency in response to harsh grid conditions. Participants can choose not to attend a certain event where there is an increased demand for electricity, suspend participation or withdraw at any time. BLACKOUT EMERGENCY IN CALIFORNIA The idea stems from the fact that power outages in California are frequent and the increase in electric cars suggests that this summer there may be even more problems than usual, so much so that the grid operator has estimated a deficit of 1,700 MegaWatts.