Valencia Gardens Energy Storage (VGES) Project

In the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District

California's first front-of-meter merchant energy storage project

The Clean Coalition is leading the Valencia Gardens Energy Storage (VGES) Project. This groundbreaking project, located in a disadvantaged community in the heart of San Francisco, will showcase how front-of-meter (FOM) energy storage can be effectively deployed in dense, developed urban environments.

Key features:

  • The first FOM merchant energy storage project in California.
  • Sited at the Valencia Gardens Apartments (VGA), a 300,000-square-foot low-income and senior housing facility with 260 units in San Francisco’s Mission District.
  • Will pair innovative energy storage with the existing 580 kW of existing FOM solar at the VGA — one of the largest solar installations in San Francisco — on a circuit with a peak load of 570 kW. 
  • Designed to enhance the interconnection hosting capacity of the existing feeder by at least 25% and ensure that far more solar can be sited on that feeder.
  • Staged to provide indefinite renewables-driven backup power to critical loads at the VGA and potentially other facilities on the feeder.

By demonstrating how targeted deployment of energy storage can increase the grid’s ability to handle greater amounts of distributed solar, VGES will set the stage for increased deployment of clean local energy in California and beyond.

Download a 2-page overview of the VGES Project (PDF)

Project goals

VGES has these primary goals:

  1. Increase the existing solar PV hosting capacity of the distribution circuit by at least 25%.
  2. Optimize and balance circuit load and generation — including discharging surplus solar energy during the evening ramp.
  3. Deliver ancillary services to the grid through existing 
market mechanisms and share the economic realities.
  4. Provide local grid resilience through voltage regulation and other prospective grid services.

VGES will drive advancements in policy, market mechanisms, and interconnection to fully value and proliferate FOM energy storage.

An innovative solar+storage project

A major VGES innovation is that solar+storage are interconnected to the distribution grid, a configuration that will deliver many benefits to the grid that current projects — deployed either behind a customer meter or on the transmission grid — cannot achieve:

  • Support for higher penetrations of distributed solar across multiple sites along a feeder. An optimized feeder load and generation profile.
  • Reductions in system-wide peaks, reducing the need for costly peaker generation and expanded transmission system capacity.
  • Ancillary services to the distribution and transmission grids such as demand response and frequency regulation.
  • Prospective policies and market mechanisms that advance the regulatory and interconnection frameworks by properly valuing and supporting cost-effective energy storage solutions.
  • Enhanced grid resilience and security through indefinite renewables-driven backup power to critical loads during grid outages; future resilience benefits are possible with grid isolation switches at proper locations on the feeder.

The project will add 1,096 kWh of energy storage power to the 580 kW of rooftop solar that is already interconnected to the local distribution grid. The resulting solar+storage system will include cutting-edge technology to offer grid balancing and set the stage for indefinite renewables-driven backup power for critical facilities in the case of a grid outage. The system will be capable of demonstrating a resilient solution for the community’s emergency energy needs — from clean local sources.

A model for California

VGES will serve as a model that supports California’s emissions reductions goals, increases the state’s resilience and security, drives regional economic development, and lowers the cost of operating the power grid.

Potential long-term VGES resilience design

Project benefits

Once complete in 2020, VGES will:

  • Enhance community resilience by setting the stage for emergency renewable backup power in the event of a natural disaster or widespread grid outage.
  • Increase access to clean energy by creating more capacity locally on the distribution grid so that neighbors can go solar.
  • Build on prior successes by leveraging an existing showcase solar deployment.
  • Demonstrate the viability of local energy storage for ratepayers, developers, and the utility.
  • Protect open space by deploying in a dense urban community on built environments.

The VGES project is expected to provide these benefits per 1 MW of added solar over 20 years:

  • $1.3 million in peak capacity savings, transmission and distribution line loss savings, and new transmission capacity savings
  • $4.6 million in regional economic development, including job creation and increased tax revenue
  • $0 ratepayer impact
  • 225 million pounds of GHG emissions reductions
  • 0.6 million gallons of water saved

Project partners

VGES is funded in part by the California Energy Commission. Project partners include Mission Housing, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the City and County of San Francisco, and PATHION.

VGES fact sheets and reports

Throughout the VGES project, the Clean Coalition will publish reports and fact sheets on VGES findings. As we produce reports and fact sheets, we will post them on this page.

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