Sunnova Submits Application to Build Micro-Utility in California

Sunnova Energy International Inc. has announced that it will build the first-of-its-kind micro utility focused on solar power and storage systems. The leading U.S. Energy as a Service (EaaS) provider shared that it has sought California government approval to own a utility that will develop and operate community microgrids. 

Sunnova Community Microgrids California, LLC (SCMC) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sunnova to offer energy services, including generation, storage, and distribution to new communities. The aim is to be a force in the energy space, developing self-sustaining micro-utilities that will provide solar and storage for resiliency in new home communities.  

William J. (John) Berger, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sunnova, said, ‘Community microgrids are the future as they offer the unique ability to share excess electricity, putting the power in the hands of homeowners and significantly enhancing the resiliency of communities. Sunnova is breaking new ground by expanding its distributed energy service platform from homes to whole communities. We see a future where communities, neighborhoods, and businesses can operate independently from the legacy grid with sustainable energy sources that provide uninterrupted power.’

SCMC has applied to the California Public Utilities Commission(CPUC) to qualify as a micro-utility under Section 2780 and to obtain a certificate to construct and operate microgrids under Section 1001 of the California Public Utilities Code. 

This application shows that Sunnova is ready to be the first solar and storage-focused micro-utility company in California to receive certification. It seeks to own and operate nanogrids (behind the meter), control energy generation, and be in charge of distribution infrastructure (front of the meter). Sunnova agrees that companies can construct multi-property microgrids for residential and commercial clients and sees micro-utilities as a means to achieve that.

‘We believe microgrids address a strong need in the market for more robust energy solutions and better connectivity. The Sunnova Adaptive Community™ will provide consumers with the ability to produce, share, and deliver power when it’s needed most. SCMC’s application highlights the relief that the existing transmission and distribution system will experience given that most of the power that will be consumed by these communities will be generated locally from renewable resources. We hope the CPUC moves expeditiously to approve our application so that we can begin serving new communities,’ added Berger.

Sunnova Adaptive Communities™

The Texas-based company will work with real estate developers to design and install microgrids in newly constructed homes. These homes will experience sustainability, clean, and reliable power and will be tagged the Sunnova Adaptive Communities™.

Each home will have a separately metered solar photovoltaic panel and battery storage, serving as a nanogrid. The PV will be oversized for each house to allow excess energy to flow to other parts of the community or the grid. Each household can monitor and adjust its energy usage individually. In addition, there will be community solar and energy storage for an emergency generation. Sunnova would operate the microgrids as a virtual power plant through software and predictive analytics.

The Texas-based company stated that building this microgrid will cost between $16,000 and $20,000 per home. 82% of the community’s power would come from the microgrid, and the traditional grid will supply the rest. The microgrid is estimated to operate independently for a minimum of 300 hours.

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