AGL to boost battery offerings and expand virtual power plant after S.A. success

AGL says it will expand its virtual power plant technology to other states, and offer incentives to some homes to add their own household batteries, after the success of its virtual power plant technology trial in South Australia.
AGL launched its VPP with some fanfare, and not a little controversy, two years ago when the event was overshadowed by an on-camera argument between then South Australia premier Jay Weatherill and then energy minister Josh Frydenberg.
Under a more relaxed setting in Melbourne, although shortly after energy minister Angus Taylor again waved his big stick policy to the energy industry in a key note speech, new AGL chief executive Brett Redman said the company will take its VPP offering to Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Mostly, this will comprise a one-year contract with households that already have a battery. The customers will receive credits of $280 to participate in the program, which allows AGL to draw from their systems for a broader market contribution if needed by the grid
In South Australia, the expanded VPP will include an upfront payment of $1,000 towards the cost of their battery for participating in the Virtual Power Plant program for five years. This offer will likely be expanded to other states, depending on customer needs and the evolution of state subsidies.
'Right now, generally customers can only use their solar systems to meet their own energy needs and sell any surplus back into the grid,' Redman told the Australian Energy Week conference.
'The AGL Virtual Power Plant  … allows customers to provide services to AGL to support the grid at times when energy is needed.
'The new Virtual Power Plant will enhance reliability and affordability, sharing the benefits and in effect allows customers to act as generators.'
Almost 25 percent of standalone homes, around 1.7 million in total, have solar systems installed, with around 150,000 batteries expected to be installed by 2025 according to Australian Energy Market Operator estimates. Some private analysts predict a much higher rate of installation.
The details and full terms and conditions will be available shortly. The intention is to offer a 12-month contract for customers who are AGL electricity customers with an eligible battery installed, from July this year.
The $280 in the first year will comprise a one-off $100 sign-on bonus and $45 each quarter (in total $180 per year) to participate in the Virtual Power Plant program.

Giles Parkinson
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of Renew Economy
, and is also the founder of One Step Off The Grid
and founder/editor of The Driven
. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.
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