Tesla Powerwall Helping Valley Energy Customers

A new type of Tesla battery is shaking up the energy industry. Valley homeowners and businesses are among the first to try it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015
Tesla Powerwall Helping Valley Energy Customers
A new type of Tesla battery is shaking up the energy industry.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tesla announced its new "Powerwall" home battery with much fanfare this May. Elon Musk showed off the $3,000 lithium-ion battery, designed to be mounted on a wall, and connected to the local power grid. It powers up overnight, when energy companies typically charge less for electricity. Then, it can be turned on during the day to power a home.

Another popular home energy storage option involves tapping into existing solar energy systems -- already installed in 20,000 homes in Central California alone. The idea is that these batteries would store power harvested from solar panels during the day, and then that energy would be used to power your home at night.

PG&E spokesman Denny Boyles says energy storage is still a fairly new, emerging technology: "We've connected over 160 storage projects for homes and customers already. Almost 20 of them are Tesla batteries. It's definitely an evolving market and I think it's a great thing, it's another way that California is a leader."

Tesla also makes an energy storage system for businesses. Cargill's Fresno beef processing plant is one of the first to test it out. General Manager Jon Nash explained, "We're testing it here at this site, and we think longer term in Cargill there's great opportunity to use these technologies going forward."

The bank of five batteries -- installed on site about a month ago -- can store up to one megawatt of power during off-peak hours. That's about a quarter of the plant's daily power needs. In an operation that is constantly running, the batteries could save Cargill more than $100,000 annually in electricity costs. Nash says, "It will save us money. Absolutely, it's a good business decision, as most sustainability things are. But it's actually really good for the environment and really something that is core to Cargill and something important that we continue to lead in in the Valley." The batteries will also switch on automatically when there's an outage, serving as a backup power source. The batteries at Cargill will go into operation starting this weekend.