Octopus Energy & Enphase Bring Virtual Power Plant Technology To Texas

You might think that Texas, where the governor and his minions all think renewable energy is the Devil’s Alley, would be the last place in America to see virtual power plant technology offered to homeowners. But in fact, ERCOT, the utility operator in Texas, is mandated by law to build the grid as cheaply as possible. That, in turn, leaves it open to system failures like the massive power outages that hit the state after a severe winter storm in 2021.

The governor touted renewable energy, but in reality it was ERCOT’s inability to anticipate such a weather event that prevented the wind turbines that are such a frequent sight in Texas from being able to withstand freezing temperatures. Such measures cost money, and of course they were not included when the wind farms were built. Being cheap often means spending more money in the long run, as Texans discovered when the price of electricity rose from 12 cents per kWh at $3.00 per kWh or more.

The result of this frenzy in the pursuit of frugality is that the authorities in Texas have created a situation where it is far cheaper to install a solar system with battery backup than to just keep trusting that Greg Abbott and his friends can provide reliable, affordable electricity to the people of Texas.

The virtual power plant plan

Last week, Octopus Energy and Enphase announced a new partnership that allows residential customers to integrate Enphase home solar and battery solutions into their energy plan to unlock affordable residential energy prices. As part of the agreement, Octopus Energy will be able to flexibly control the customer’s battery to reduce consumption when the grid is most constrained and help save customers hundreds of dollars each year, according to a press release. “Our partnership is just beginning. We look forward to expanding into new markets with world-class products and services to advance a more sustainable future together,” Octopus Energy said.

The proprietary software platform from Octopus Energy manages, controls and optimizes distributed energy resources. It plans to create a virtual power plant with the Enphase home battery systems and will bid on those DERs on the associated Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market — the first of its kind for those assets.

Octopus Energy can optimize how a customer’s battery interacts with the grid through Intelligent Octopus, their smart device retail energy plan, giving customers access to the cheapest retail prices. And in times of grid outages, the absolute cheapest electricity is of course that generated by a home’s rooftop solar system.

As Octopus Energy expands its retail energy presence into states outside of Texas, it hopes the new partnership will reduce costs for customers and promote a cleaner grid. “Our partnership with Enphase Energy is a critically important step as we accelerate the transition to renewable energy across the U.S. Load flexibility creates tremendous value in highly renewable energy grids, and energy retailers have a unique ability to match electricity prices to customers, so this is a perfect opportunity to integrate the value of demand response into a retail product to create the cheapest prices for customers.”

“Retailers have the opportunity to lead the energy transition by combining customer-centric product offerings, modern technology and pricing authority to create products that lower costs and are truly lower carbon,” said Michael Lee, CEO of Octopus Energy US. “We look forward to working with Enphase Energy as we cultivate a broad range of low-cost and innovative pricing to decarbonize our power grid.”

“We are excited to partner with Octopus Energy to bring solar cells and batteries to the homes of Texas homeowners, helping them better manage their electricity costs and creating a more resilient energy system for everyone,” said Dave Ranhoff, chief commercial officer at Enphase Energy . “Our partnership is just beginning. We look forward to expanding into new markets with world-class products and services to advance a more sustainable future together.”

Octopus Energy and Enphase’s partnership comes as policymakers around the globe seek to harness new technologies to accelerate the transition to renewable energy, as well as remove barriers to clean energy growth. Together with Enphase, Octopus Energy will enable customers to optimize their virtual power plant home energy system around easy participation in ancillary markets and demand response programs for immediate savings.

This is the latest step in Octopus Energy’s mission to enable a smarter, greener future across the globe. One of the most awarded energy companies in the United Kingdom, where the company was founded five years ago, Octopus Energy entered the US market in 2020. In 2022, it launched Octopus Electric Vehicles, its integrated demand response EV leasing plan that accelerates availability and adoption of electric cars and smart charging, as well as Intelligent Octopus, a smart demand response plan that lowers electricity prices by up to 30 percent simply by allowing Octopus to automate smart charging for the customer.

The EV Concierge Program

Last summer, Chris George, the head of Octopus Electric Vehicles in America, told CleanTechnica“When visiting our website, users will be greeted with our EV Concierge program, examples of EV options and an invitation to fill out our form to see if they qualify to participate in the beta program. If a customer qualifies itself, our EV Concierge will offer qualified customers white-glove service, helping prospective EV drivers through the entire search and leasing process, including selecting and delivering a new or used EV of their choice, installing an EV home charger, and educating them on best practices for electricity ownership New customers will get a completely new EV tariff.

“With the high demand for EVs and a low supply of used and new EVs, it is an important time for us to enter EVs to help drivers transition to electric ownership as we push towards electrification. Plus, with our white-glove service, including electric car training, we can help make the switch easier than ever by guiding customers through the entire process – increasing confidence in electric ownership and eliminating ‘fear of the unknown’.”

In a recent article, we told our readers about a new report circulating in the air of Davos this week, which identifies three so-called “super tipping points” that could help move the world off the cliff of climate catastrophe. Octopus and Enphase help make it happen.




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