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Sunnova Grows its Virtual Power Plant Network to Support the Grid and Compensate Customers

Business Wire 3-Apr-2024 7:00 AM

Sunnova Energy International Inc. ("Sunnova") (NYSE:NOVA), an industry-leading adaptive energy services company, announced continued investments and expansion to its virtual power plant (VPP) network, providing increased reliability, reduced emissions, and lower costs.

With its VPP investments, Sunnova is boosting accessibility in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and Texas to enable customers to rapidly access stored battery power during periods of peak demand – and in some cases send excess power back to the electrical grid – reducing strain on the grid and minimizing blackouts.

The clean power produced by Sunnova's rooftop solar and battery storage customers helps offset the need for utilities to use heavily polluting traditional power plants during peak demand periods. In return for their demand battery response and contribution, customers are compensated for the power supplied by their batteries in most programs.

"We are revolutionizing the role of solar and storage while putting money back into our customers' pockets – and the response has been overwhelming," said William J. (John) Berger, Sunnova's chief executive officer. "Our customer base of more than 419,000 comprises an estimated 1-gigawatt hour of storage capacity, and this vast clean power source will go a long way in supporting struggling grids, decarbonizing our energy systems, and compensating participating customers – creating a win-win-win for everyone involved. The future of home energy services is here."

One recent example of Sunnova's VPP leadership is demonstrated through the LUMA Battery Emergency Demand Response Program (BEDRP) in Puerto Rico. As the leading residential solar and battery storage services company in Puerto Rico, Sunnova currently manages more than 1,000 enrolled customers, where capacity of approximately 10 megawatt hours is provided to supplement LUMA's resilience against outages. By voluntarily participating in the program through the Sunnova Flex Power Program, Sunnova customers play an active role in bolstering the grid and supporting a reliable power supply for Puerto Ricans.

"Electricity demand is being driven to record levels and the power grid is not ready – but VPPs can offer critical help," said Berger. "We see VPPs as insurance for the grid, as they are ready now to provide power in times of need and tackle the impending challenges ahead of a constrained electric system. We are proud to be expanding our VPP service to help customers combat the skyrocketing price of electricity and shore up the grid in times of need."

When the grid is under stress, Sunnova receives LUMA's signal and discharges enrolled battery storage via the Sunnova Sentient™ platform, reducing grid demand, minimizing blackouts, and keeping the power on. As of March 2024, this Sunnova VPP has helped prevent five grid outages that could have potentially impacted several hundred thousand homes on the Island. The company's VPP has also been used to provide additional reserve to the grid in moments when generation has been running below recommended reserves. Today's announcement highlights how this success can be replicated across the country.

"Our customer base is rapidly expanding, and we're at a pivotal moment in enrolling customers into VPPs," said Michael Grasso, Sunnova's Chief Revenue Officer. "This comes at a time when energy storage is increasingly becoming mainstream, and the delivery of grid services through our VPP is becoming an everyday activity. Sunnova is proud to be at the tip of the spear when it comes to these revolutionary VPP programs, and we're proud to not only help our customers but to help improve the overall resilience of our country's energy grids."

Under today's announcement, Sunnova has expanded its operational VPP offerings to several programs nationwide, including:

  • California – Power Grid Protect and Emergency Load Reduction Program
  • New York – Battery Reward incentive program
  • Northeast – Connected Solutions Demand Response Programs (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut)
  • Puerto Rico – Sunnova Flex Power Program through the LUMA Battery Emergency Demand Response Program
  • Texas – Adaptive Retail Energy Plan (ERCOT) 

"As policymakers begin to see the success of existing VPP programs nationwide, they are rapidly moving to establish and implement similar VPP initiatives with the goal of enhancing grid resilience and saving ratepayers money amidst surging energy demands," said Meghan Nutting, Sunnova's Executive Vice President, Regulatory and Government Affairs. "With an impressive 24% battery attachment rate among new customer originations last quarter, our growing number of customers are primed to participate in VPP programs as they come online."

The announcement represents Sunnova's continued dedication to fostering energy choice, enriching customer experiences, empowering communities, and advancing the overall energy landscape across the United States.

Sunnova's VPP programs utilize its innovative energy management solutions and proprietary Sunnova Sentient™ technology platform, which optimizes energy management, enhances reliability and resiliency, provides demand response and grid support while providing additional revenue streams and offers greater energy independence for its network of customers.

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