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Virtual Power Plant
In 2018 Tesla, with support from the state government, unveiled South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant. The program was designed in phases to demonstrate the viability of a virtual power plant to reduce energy costs for households and support the energy grid in ways that could reduce energy costs for all South Australians.
The trial phases involved 1,100 Housing SA properties being fitted with solar and battery storage systems. All installations under the trial phases were completed in 2019. Tesla and the Government are now evaluating the trial phases and future options for the project.
Solar PV systems and the virtual power plant
Rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems will be installed on eligible Housing Trust properties. The systems will convert energy from the sun into electricity and feed it into the main electricity grid or store it in the onsite Tesla Powerwall home battery for use when the sun isn’t shining. These systems remain operational for up to 20 years.
The Virtual Power Plant is different from an individual solar PV system, the VPP stores and provides this energy to support the grid. All tenants in Housing Trust properties who sign up to the program will benefit from reduced power bills, not just those living in the homes where they are installed.
After the initial rollout, the program could be rolled out to an additional 49,000 properties, including private households later this year.
A VPP installed on 50,000 public and private properties across South Australia would provide for around 20% of our state’s average daily energy requirements and provide greater energy security.
Most, but not all Housing Trust homes, will have a system installed if the trials progress to full implementation. Tesla will require access to your home and roof space to assess its suitability. If you live on a group site, this inspection may be done for the whole site.
As with other home improvements or repairs, the government will notify you in advance to agree a suitable time if they need to access your property.
If the program is extended beyond the trial phases, Housing Trust tenants will be able to participate and enjoy the same savings as other tenants who sign up to the program retailer.
Households that already have solar panels may be able to participate in the program at a later stage. Tesla will review all properties to determine if they are able to support a system and participate in the program.
How to register
Public housing tenants can register your interest if you want to volunteer your property to be assessed to have a solar and battery system installed during the trial phases. Please choose “I am a public housing tenant” on the online registration form.
The general public, businesses, private rental and community housing tenants, will be able to participate after June 2019.
What it will cost tenants
There is no cost to Housing Trust tenants to have the system installed and maintained. Tesla is responsible for installation and servicing.
Depending on your current electricity consumption, under the Energy Locals VPP Offer you could save more than 20% off the standard electricity price in South Australia.
Everyone should make their own decision about the best electricity plan for their households. A simple way to do this is to look at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au and compare the Energy Locals VPP Program Offer with other offers available.
You will have the choice of staying with your current retailer, but if you do, you may not be eligible for the cheaper electricity provided by the program retailer. A retailer is an agency you pay your electricity bills to.
Origin energy discount
The offer of Origin 18% discount for concession card holders is a separate initiative which is available now for eligible customers.
Opting out of the program
As the owner of the property, the Housing Trust will work with Tesla to decide if a solar and battery system is to be installed. If you feel the installation of the system makes the home unsuitable for your family, you can advise Housing SA so your concerns are taken into consideration.
You will be able to opt out of the program at any time by changing electricity retailers. However, if a system has been installed at your home it will remain.