Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP) and OhmConnect are partnering to create Resi-Station, a 550-MW clean energy power plant that will go live in California next month. At full-scale, in three years, it will be the largest residential power plant in the world, said SIP and OhmConnect, a virtual power plant company that harnesses the power of a fleet of energy saving homes and smart devices.
Founded in 2014, California-based OhmConnect acts as a power supplier during times of peak demand by taking energy offline. When the grid is overwhelmed, the company sends alerts to customers asking them to reduce usage by turning off the air conditioner or stopping the dryer, for example. “What we are doing with aggregated demand response and what Resi-Station will do is give everybody access to demand control in real time. Both are possible because of the pioneering work of residential solar,” Cisco DeVries, CEO of OhmConnect said. For people with residential solar, combining OhmConnect’s aggregated demand response capabilities with Resi-Station will give them more ways to save and make money on their solar investment, he added.
As part of their Resi-Station partnership, Alphabet-backed SIP is investing $20 million in OhmConnect. SIP is also providing the capital to build and operate Resi-Station. Much of the funding will be used to grow OhmConnect’s user base. The company currently has around 150,000 active customers in California, and through Resi-Station is expecting to add around another 750,000.
For SIP, the funding commitment is the first major transaction for its Resilia platform, which is focused on making electric systems bidirectional, transactive and distributed. Resi-Station will eventually be affiliated with Resilia. OhmConnect and SIP will jointly manage it after it becomes operational. In August, SIP launched a similar subsidiary called Cavnue that combines technology and road infrastructure to unlock the potential of connected and autonomous vehicles.
REGlobal’s Views: Initiatives like Resi-Station and the Resila platform will open the door to a massively transactive grid. Resi-Station and the Resila platform are not going to replace traditional power plants, but they may become a major component of the US energy system over the coming years as these will bring commercial scale to distributed power plants. Regulatory changes, including Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 2222 will accelerate this transition.