The Hybrid Electric Building fleet can reduce peak demand by 25 percent and provide up to 10 megawatts of instantaneous load reduction for up to four hours to help SCE balance the grid. | Courtesy Irvine Company Office Properties

Irvine Company, SCE Launch First Hybrid Electric Buildings

Carrie Rossenfeld Office

The Irvine Company and Southern California Edison (SCE) have conducted a “virtual ribbon cutting” on the world’s first fleet of Hybrid Electric Buildings®, which feature state-of-the-art Tesla Powerpack battery systems. The 21 high-rise office buildings are also equipped with Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) energy management and optimization software that employs advanced analytics to enable each building to control its demand from the electric grid and respond in unison when SCE signals a need to reduce load on the grid.

SoCal Real Estate was unable to reach Irvine Company before deadline for more details on the specific buildings in the fleet.

“Distributed energy storage is an entirely new class of resource for balancing the grid and a viable replacement for ‘peaker’ plants — expensive power plants that run only when there is high demand,” says California Energy Commission chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “Harnessing the power of the customer to manage demand on the grid is the next generation of grid-management efficiency.”

Each building’s energy demand is controlled by sophisticated software that seamlessly shifts the building to battery power, in the same way a hybrid-electric car shifts from gas to battery power. The cloud-based optimization software continuously monitors grid conditions and coordinates demand reduction from all the buildings simultaneously when SCE calls for grid support. The Hybrid Electric Building fleet can reduce peak demand by 25 percent and provide up to 10 megawatts of instantaneous load reduction for up to four hours to help SCE balance the grid. This is the equivalent to offsetting power demand of 10 high-rise buildings or enough power to serve more than 10,000 homes.

The first buildings were dispatched by SCE in November 2017. The fleet was dispatched 32 business days straight with zero emissions, zero customer fatigue, and zero impact on building operations — “No demand response program in the history of the energy industry has ever done that,” says Susan Kennedy, CEO of AMS.

In addition to providing clean, grid balancing resources to SCE, Irvine Company is reducing energy expenses and operating costs by an estimated 10 percent. Doug Holte, president of Irvine Company Office Properties, says that the company has the most LEED and ENERGY Star certified buildings in California. “New technologies are making sustainable development a triple win — good for the community and good for the environment and good for our customers’ bottom line.”

SCE officials say they are looking for customers to play a larger role in helping to operate a modern electric grid, and they hope other companies realize that investments in advanced energy technologies will benefit their customers, their bottom line, and help power a brighter and cleaner future.

“Projects like this will help us to accommodate more and more renewable resources on the electric grid while maintaining reliability and providing even more clean power to our customers,” says Mike Marelli, VP of SCE’s business-customer division.