Inside Nest’s 50,000-home virtual power plant for Southern California Edison

Nest’s smart thermostats are a device for the upscale and energy-aware consumer. But they’re also a resource for grid stability — when there are enough of them out there to make a difference.

In Southern California, where the Aliso Canyon emergency is threatening to cause blackouts next summer, Nest believes it can get 50,000 of them together to help keep the lights on.

Nest’s new deal with partner Southern California Edison was announced last month as part of the utility’s rushed response to the shutdown of the Aliso Canyon natural-gas storage facility. It calls for Nest to deliver about 50 megawatts, or 1 kilowatt per home, in reliable load reduction across a stretch of Southern California grid that may run short of power during hot afternoons next summer.

This is Nest’s biggest demand response contract so far, but it’s not being built from scratch. “We’ll be tapping our existing installed base to provide immediate relief,” said Ben Bixby, energy businesses director for the Alphabet (Google)-owned company, said in an interview last week.

Read the full story. (Greentech Media)