Tesla Drives Into New Market: Powering Homes - NECN
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Tesla Drives Into New Market: Powering Homes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The company best known for its premium electric cars also makes home batteries that provide protection against power outages. (Published Wednesday, May 4, 2016)

    A first-in-the-nation partnership between an electric utility and Tesla, the automotive and energy storage company, has resulted in the installation of new battery units in some Vermont homes.

    "Storage is a game-changer," said Mary Powell, the CEO of Green Mountain Power. "It truly is a revolutionary step forward when we think about energy delivery."

    Green Mountain Power is helping customers access the Tesla Powerwall. The company best known for its premium electric cars also makes rechargeable lithium ion units that can store energy for use during power outages.

    The wall-mounted batteries and accompanying inverters can be purchased through the utility for $6,500, which includes installation. However, customers have the option to lease the whole system for approximately $1.25 a day, with no up-front cost, Powell said.

    The batteries can keep critical operations of a home going for several hours through a power failure, Green Mountain Power said.

    The electricity provider can also call on the batteries to discharge juice during peak times, like a heat wave. That will help lower demand on the transmission system, and cut costs to customers, the utility said.

    "Having something like battery storage is going to give us a ton of flexibility to shift when that peak is occurring," added Josh Castonguay, GMP's director of renewable innovations.

    Powerwalls can be filled overnight, when electricity is cheaper than during the day, Castonguay noted.

    Troy Turner was among the first consumers to obtain a Powerwall for his St. Albans home through GMP's new offering.

    "It's green, and it's practical," Turner said of the new battery.

    Turner said with northern Vermont's reputation for harsh winters and thunderous summer storms, he does worry about power outages. He preferred the Powerwall to a generator, he told necn, believing those to be more unwieldy, and dismissing them for their reliance on fossil fuels.

    Right now, Turner's Powerwall receives energy from the old-fashioned power lines that run to his home from the street. In the future, the homeowner said he'd like to connect solar panels to the Powerwall, to become even more energy independent and generate power he’ll store in his battery.

    "Could there be a day that I'm off-grid? Possibly," Turner told necn. "Those are thoughts in my head."

    Originally, Green Mountain Power obtained 500 Powerwalls from Tesla. After announcing the launch of the project, the utility received 700 inquiries from customers, Powell said. She told reporters the company plans to get more of the home batteries soon, to meet customer demand.

    Eventually, the power company hopes to expand its storage options in a big way, moving to more and more locally-produced and distributed energy, Powell said.

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