California Virtual Power Plant “Shattering Records” for Distributed Energy Storage

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Southern California Edison’s (SCE) five-year-old experiment with local energy has brought about a new world record with a virtual power plant delivering 2 GWh of grid services, according to AMS, the project designer and operator.

virtual power plants

Irvine commercial building network. Courtesy of AMS

In 2018 — its first year of operation — the virtual power plant was dispatched 250 times to the California Independent System Operator.

Owned by Macquarie Capital, the project uses battery storage to reduce peak demand at large commercial and industrial facilities in the Los Angeles basin. It includes 21 hybrid electric buildings owned by the Irvine Company.

The virtual power plant was one of five energy storage projects selected in 2014 from a ground-breaking solicitation issued by SCE for what the utility calls “preferred resources” — energy storage, solar, wind, energy efficiency and conservation. The utility launched the multi-year pilot program to see if it can meet Orange County’s growing demand for electricity with distributed energy instead of new gas-fired power plants.

“SCE is proving that distributed energy, properly harnessed, can provide flexibility to the grid while reducing energy costs for customers,” said Susan Kennedy, CEO of AMS. “By using batteries to replace fossil fuels for peak demand in a region like Los Angeles, California is proving that 100 percent clean energy policies can be achieved anywhere in the world.”

AES, NRG, Onsite Energy, Sterling Analytics, SunPower, Ice Energy Holdings and Stem are among others SCE chose through the 2014 solicitation. Energy storage accounted for 262 MW of the 2, 221 MW the utility secured through contracts.

AMS began operating the first phase of its project (11 MW/60 MWh) in 2018. The 2 GWh of capacity services it has delivered since then shatter records for distributed energy storage anywhere in the world, according to AMS.

Join us at Microgrid 2019 May 14-16 in San Diego to explore microgrids, nanogrids, virtual power plants and other advanced distributed energy resources.

The company also describes the project as the largest battery storage virtual power plant operating in the world today. When completed in 2019, it will offer 62 MW/352 MWh.  

The project’s fleet of 21 hybrid electric buildings can reduce peak demand by up to 10 MW within minutes of receiving an automated signal from CAISO. During the winter the fleet was dispatched for 64 consecutive business days with no impact on building operations, according to AMS.

AMS said the project also generated more than $1 million in total energy cost savings to SCE customers.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


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