In a pioneering effort to fortify its power grid and usher in a new era of sustainable energy solutions, Puerto Rico has embarked on a groundbreaking pilot program. Launched by Luma Energy, this yearlong initiative leverages the power of residents’ home batteries, intricately connected to rooftop solar panels, to provide backup energy for the island’s grid. The endeavor not only seeks to avert potential blackouts but also marks a significant stride toward creating one of North America’s most extensive virtual power plants.

Initiated as part of Puerto Rico’s comprehensive strategy to modernize its aging grid infrastructure and transition to cleaner energy alternatives, the program holds the potential to reshape the energy landscape. If successful, it could lay the foundation for a large-scale residential-storage virtual power plant, rendering conventional fossil fuel-burning peaker plants unnecessary. This innovative approach aligns with global trends promoting virtual power plants as a crucial component in meeting growing energy demands while offering substantial cost savings and environmental benefits. As Puerto Rico pioneers this transformative initiative, the island stands poised to emerge as a trailblazer in the global transition to a more sustainable and resilient energy future.

Puerto Rico has embarked on a groundbreaking yearlong pilot program, initiated by Luma Energy, utilizing residents’ home batteries connected to rooftop solar panels to bolster the island’s power grid. This innovative approach aims to prevent blackouts, offer an eco-friendly alternative to peaker plants, and potentially set the stage for one of the largest virtual power plants (VPPs) in North America.

The Vision of a Resilient Grid

The pilot program, involving up to 6,500 households, forms part of Puerto Rico’s broader initiative to modernize its deteriorating grid and transition towards clean energy. If successful, this project could pave the way for an expansive residential-storage virtual power plant, rendering traditional peaker plants redundant during demand spikes.

Virtual Power Plants and their Role

Virtual power plants (VPPs) are networks comprising various distributed energy resources, including home batteries, electric water heaters, and heat pumps, designed to support the grid. These VPPs manage energy demand by adjusting appliances and can also contribute power to the grid by utilizing home or electric vehicle batteries.

National Perspective and Department of Energy’s Promotion

The Department of Energy advocates VPPs as a solution to anticipated energy demand growth. While several states, such as Vermont, California, and Texas, have operational VPPs, around 20 states lack such systems. Tripling the VPP capacity by 2030 across the United States could potentially fulfill 10 to 20 percent of peak demand, leading to significant cost savings by obviating the need for new infrastructure or reliance on peaker plants.

Puerto Rico’s Unique Position

Puerto Rico stands uniquely positioned for a residential-storage VPP due to widespread adoption of rooftop solar arrays, many of which include battery storage. Post-Hurricane Maria in 2017, solar adoption surged, and over 100,000 households now have rooftop solar. The island is installing about 4,000 new systems per month, accelerated by federal funding programs supporting vulnerable households.

Pilot Program and Potential Impact

The ongoing pilot program, targeting 6,500 customers, has enrolled nearly 2,000 households, representing 12.4 MW of capacity. Leveraging home batteries during energy shortages, the program could provide approximately 26 MW of power. As a testament to its effectiveness, the VPP has already been tapped three times, with increased frequency expected during hotter summer months.

Customer Engagement, Benefits, and Future Outlook

Customer engagement in Puerto Rico’s innovative pilot program goes beyond mere participation, offering residents a unique level of autonomy and financial incentives. Participants have the power to determine the amount of energy reserved in their batteries and retain the option to opt-out of grid dispatches, ensuring a personalized and adaptable experience.

Financially, the program provides tangible benefits for participants. Luma Energy compensates solar providers at a rate of $1.25 per kilowatt-hour, and these proceeds are shared with the customers. Notably, this compensation model surpasses the value of traditional net metering, offering participants a lucrative opportunity. For instance, companies like Sonnen and Sunrun are providing flat annual rates and additional bonuses based on the extent of battery dispatch.

Beyond economic advantages, Puerto Ricans are deriving a sense of pride from actively contributing to a groundbreaking energy transition. By embracing this initiative, residents are not only safeguarding their financial interests but also positioning Puerto Rico as a potential leader in pioneering sustainable solutions for energy security. As the program progresses, it holds the promise of setting a precedent for customer-centric, economically viable, and environmentally conscious energy initiatives globally. The island’s residents are becoming catalysts for change, fostering a collective commitment to a cleaner, more resilient energy future.


In conclusion, Puerto Rico’s venture into utilizing residents’ home batteries for grid support marks a pivotal moment in the island’s pursuit of a resilient and sustainable energy future. The ongoing pilot program, fueled by Luma Energy’s innovative approach, not only addresses immediate challenges related to blackouts but also signifies a bold step towards a cleaner, more efficient grid infrastructure. The potential establishment of one of North America’s largest virtual power plants demonstrates Puerto Rico’s commitment to embracing cutting-edge technologies for grid management.

As the program progresses, it carries the promise of inspiring similar initiatives globally, showcasing the viability of virtual power plants as integral components of modern energy ecosystems. Beyond the economic and environmental advantages, this endeavor instills a sense of pride among Puerto Ricans, positioning the island as a leader in pioneering solutions that bridge the gap between energy demand, sustainability, and resilience.