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SA Virtual Power Plant - FAQs

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1. Overview of the Program

Who is involved in the virtual power plant?

With the support of the Government of South Australia, Tesla and energy retailer Energy Locals have developing South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant (SA VPP). In particular:

  • Tesla designed and developed SA VPP, and is managing the installation of solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery systems at South Australian homes.
  • Energy Locals is the electricity provider and retailer for all households participating in SA VPP. Energy Locals is the customer’s main point of contact for information about their electricity supply and energy bills.
  • The Government of South Australia is supporting the project through a $2 million grant and $20 million loan from the Renewable Technology Fund and $10 million grant from the Grid Scale Storage Fund. The government is working with Tesla to identify Housing SA properties suitable for the roll out of Phase 3.
  • The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is providing an $8 million grant to support Phase 3 of the project.
  • The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is providing a $30 million loan to also support Phase 3 of the project.

How is Tesla involved?

This is a Tesla designed program that integrates Tesla’s leading sustainable energy storage products with an innovative retail energy plan. Building on its world-leading Powerwall battery technology, Tesla is now looking to empower customers even further – using software to optimise the performance of the aggregated solar and Powerwall battery system, whilst also providing renewable energy back to the grid when it is needed most. Tesla is working with authorised retailer Energy Locals to keep your bills simple and transparent.

How is Energy Locals involved?

Energy Locals will provide account management and customer support. Energy Locals is an Australian energy retailer aiming to provide clean energy at a standard tariff rate to make it cheaper and fairer.

2. Eligibility and Sign-up

Do I need to register for Phase 3?

There is no need for Housing SA tenants to register their interest to join SA VPP.
Tesla and the South Australian Government are following a detailed process to identify suitable Housing SA homes to participate in SA VPP, including tenants who registered their interest in the trials. Tenants living in suitable Housing SA homes will receive information from the government and Tesla to let them know their home has been shortlisted and how to join.

How will homes be shortlisted for Phase 3?

To maximise the potential energy bill savings for Housing SA tenants and all South Australians, Phase 3 of SA VPP needs homes where solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall battery can be safely installed and operated for years to come. Tesla is also working with SA Power Networks (SAPN) to prioritise homes in areas where the need for grid support is high and batteries can assist with service like such as load management and voltage support.
Because of this, homes for Phase 3 of SA VPP go through a detailed selection process:

  1. A review of Housing SA property information like size, type, age, and condition and economic life of the building, to create a list of possible homes.
  2. A discussion of the listed locations with SAPN, to identify any homes that should be prioritised so that they can help provide grid support services.
  3. A review of online aerial photos for the shortlisted homes to create a list of tenants to receive an invitation for a free site assessment.
  4. For tenants that accept the invitation, a site assessment to confirm the site is completely suitable for the solar and battery installation.
Steps 3 and 4 consider all the technical details required for a safe and well-performing solar and battery installation, including things like suitable roof space, a suitable and safe location for a battery, little to no roof shading, and electricity meters, meterboards, and switchboards that are suitable or can be easily upgraded. A home has to pass all four of these steps to be able to join Phase 3 of SA VPP.

When will Housing SA tenants be notified if their home has been shorlisted?

Housing SA tenants shortlisted to participate in Phase 3 of SA VPP will receive information about how to join the program. This may include:

  • Letter and or email from the Government of South Australia
  • An invitation from Tesla
  • SMS text sent to their mobile phone
  • Follow up phone call from the Government of South Australia

Why hasn’t my home been selected?

There are a number of reasons why a property might not be shortlisted and selected for Phase 3 of SA VPP, including property type, age, or condition, the available space for solar panels or a battery, shading on the roof, and the condition and type of existing electricity meters, meterboards, and switchboards.

If you are a Housing SA tenant in a home that hasn’t been shortlisted for Phase 3, there are still many steps you can take to lower your electricity bills:

I have received an invitation from Tesla. How do I accept it?

Housing SA tenants shortlisted to participate in Phase 3 will receive an exclusive invitation from Tesla with a special website address and phone number listed on the invitation. Please use either of these contact points to accept your invitation by either completing the sign up form on this website or contacting Tesla’s site assessment team via phone. Tesla will then arrange a site assessment of your home to ensure it is suitable for the program.

Does this offer allow me to live off the grid?

No. Since South Australia’s Virtual Power Plant provides services to the grid, this requires all batteries to be connected to the local grid network.

How does the site assessment happen?

Once you have confirmed your interest in the program, Tesla will arrange a day and time with you to carry out your free SA VPP site assessment.
During the site inspection, Tesla will consider all the technical details required for a safe and well-performing solar and battery installation, including things like suitable roof space, a suitable and safe location for a battery, little to no roof shading, and electricity meters, meterboards, and switchboards that are suitable or can be easily upgraded.
The site inspection will typically be carried out by two electricians and take around 2 hours to complete. All you need to do is be able to provide safe and clear access to the outdoor areas of your home and your meterboard and switchboard.
Consideration during Covid-19: If you are unwell or have travelled outside of the state in the past 2 weeks days, please inform Tesla.

How does the installation happen?

If your home successfully passes an SA VPP site inspection, Tesla will install solar and a Tesla Powerwall home battery system at no cost to you. The system design, on-site work at your home, and administration of the work will all be handled by Tesla’s Installation team.
The installation will be carried out by Tesla’s Certified Installers, who meet all compliance requirements in accordance with Australian Standards. In most cases, the installation will be carried out by two electricians, and take 1 to 2 days to complete.
Tesla will install roof-mounted solar panels, a solar inverter, a Tesla Powerwall home battery, a smart meter, and all the circuitry and switchgear needed to safely connect the system to your home. Tesla, with support from Housing SA, will also arrange any changes that are needed to your main electricity meter so that the system can be connected to the grid. Any changes to your main electricity meter are likely to happen in the days after your system has been installed.

Who will provide my energy bills?

If you accept the SA VPP Offer from Energy Locals, your bills and any communication about your electricity retail contract will come from Energy Locals. You will be billed monthly.
You’ll be asked to set up a monthly direct debit from your bank account or credit card, or you may wish to pay through CentrePay. If you choose to accept the SA VPP Offer, you must also inform Concessions SA on 1800 307 758 about your switch to Energy Locals.

Is SA VPP the best electricity offer for me?

Depending on your current electricity contract and your electricity usage, you could save up to 22% off the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer) in South Australia by joining SA VPP. You will also have a reserve in the Tesla Powerwall home battery to power your home in the event of an outage.
Everyone should make their own decisions about the best electricity plan for their households. A simple way to do this is to compare your options at www.energymadeeasy.gov.au.
You can also ask Energy Locals to provide an estimate of your savings by joining SA VPP, just by sending a copy of your recent electricity bill to them.
If you wish, you can send a copy of a recent electricity bill to the Energy Locals team at savpp@energylocals.com.au for a comparison.

What if I have a home energy system installed on my home and later choose to leave SA VPP?

The Program Offer has no exit fees and customers retain the right to choose their preferred energy retailer. In the event a participating household chooses to leave the SA VPP Program Offer (with a home energy system installed on their property) Tesla will reconfigure the system so that all energy generated and stored will be exported to the grid to continue to provide benefits to other Program participants.
This means a household that opts out of the SA VPP will no longer be able to access any benefits offered by the system such as visibility of household energy use and backup functionality in the event of an outage. It is likely the home energy system will remain on the property, even though it will not be used by the property.

3. Savings and Benefits

How and will joining the SA VPP affect my power bill?

Under SA VPP you will save more than 22% off the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer) in South Australia.
Without changing their energy usage, a typical customer joining Phase 3 of SA VPP is expected to save between $40 and $406 off their annual electricity bill, while also helping provide clean energy to the community and supporting the grid.
This estimate of savings is based on an electricity usage rate of 4000 kWh per year on an anytime tariff on tariff, and depends on their previous tariff and their eligibility for energy and/or cost of living-related concessions.
The bill discount you see will depend on what kind of electricity contract you had before, how much electricity you use, and if your energy use changes after joining SA VPP.

What are the benefits of joining SA VPP?

Joining SA VPP is your chance to lower your electricity bills, and be part of a world first program making electricity more affordable, reliable and secure for all South Australians. As a SA VPP customer you will have a solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery system installed and maintained at your home, at no cost to you. In return, you will enjoy:

  • an exclusive price for electricity that is currently the lowest residential electricity rate in South Australia, guaranteed for two years.
  • part of the Tesla Powerwall battery reserved to back up your home during a power outage.
  • a low daily electricity supply charge
It’s important to remember that you will continue to pay for all the electricity you use – whether it comes from the solar, battery or the grid - but it will all be charged at the low electricity rate only available for SA VPP customers.
SA VPP’s electricity rate is even lower than the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer, and 22 per cent cheaper than the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer).
A typical customer joining Phase 3 of SA VPP is expected to save between $40 and $406 off their annual electricity bill while providing clean energy to the community and supporting the grid.
This estimate of savings is based on an electricity usage rate of 4000 kWh per year on an anytime tariff, and depends on their previous tariff and their eligibility for energy and/or cost of living-related concessions.

Will the home energy system work during a power outage?

Yes. Powerwall home batteries have back-up functionality. They can detect an outage, disconnect from the grid, and automatically restore power to your home in a fraction of a second. As long as your battery has stored electricity in it at the time, you may not even notice that the power went out. Your lights and appliances can continue to operate without interruption. As a customer of SA VPP, you will always have 10% of the battery reserved for your use in events like power outages.

Will I get a solar feed-in tariff?

No. Since the solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery are installed at no cost to you, the feed-in tariff isn't applicable.

Will my life-support equipment work if there is a power outage?

The solar system and battery working together are designed to provide power when there is an outage. However depending on your energy use and the type of life-support equipment you have, there may not be enough energy stored in your battery to power your equipment for the duration of the outage.
If you decide to join SA VPP, Energy Locals will ask you to provide information about any life support equipment you have. Please ensure Energy Locals has this information, and is aware of any changes to your circumstances.

4. VPP System Operation

What is a virtual power plant?

A virtual power plant (VPP) is a network of distributed energy resources – such as homes with solar and battery systems – all working together as a single power plant.
The VPP operator uses WiFi technology and sophisticated software to charge or discharge energy from the batteries and trade it on the National Energy Market (NEM).
With many systems working together, small amounts of energy stored in individual home batteries can become large amounts of energy to help support the grid in times of need. The capacity and power of a VPP can sometimes match or even exceed a traditional power station.

How will Tesla manage the solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery?

SA VPP is designed to provide more affordable, reliable and secure electricity for all South Australians, while increasing homeowners visibility of their energy use, and supporting South Australia’s transition to a renewables-based economy. This means Tesla will access the energy in the Powerwall at your home to maximise the potential energy bill savings for you and all South Australians. All of the VPP operations will be seamlessly controlled using Tesla’s software, so you can sit back and enjoy savings on your energy bill. The solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery installed at your home will operate differently to how it would if it were not part of a virtual power plant. Tesla’s optimisation software may direct the solar or battery to:

  • Export energy to the grid
  • Import energy from the grid
  • Maintain constant battery charge
With many systems working together, small amounts of energy stored in individual home batteries can become large amounts of energy to help support the grid in times of need.

How will Tesla manage grid exports?

The solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery installed at your home will primarily be used to power your home. Occasionally, as part of SA VPP , excess electricity generated by the solar will be exported directly to the grid before the battery is 100% charged. This happens when the grid needs support in times of need.

What will I see in my Tesla app?

You will be able to track your energy usage and monitor power flows in the Tesla app in real-time. Customisations to battery and app settings won’t be accessible.

How does SA VPP reduce my energy costs?

Joining SA VPP is your chance to lower your electricity bills, and be part of a world first program making electricity more affordable, reliable and secure for all South Australians. As a SA VPP customer you will have a solar and Tesla Powerwall home battery system installed and maintained at your home, at no cost to you. In return, you will enjoy:

  • an exclusive price for electricity that is currently the lowest residential electricity rate in South Australia, guaranteed for two years
  • part of the Tesla Powerwall battery reserved to back up your home in a power outage
  • a low daily electricity supply charge
It’s important to remember that you will continue to pay for all the electricity you use – whether it comes from the solar, battery or the grid - but it will all be charged at the low electricity rate only available for SA VPP customers.
SA VPP’s electricity rate is even lower than the SA Concession Energy Discount Offer, and 22 per cent cheaper than the standard electricity price (known as the Default Market Offer).
A typical customer joining Phase 3 of SA VPP is expected to save between $40 and $406 off their annual electricity bill while providing clean energy to the community and supporting the grid.
This estimate of savings is based on an electricity usage of 4000 kWh/year on an anytime tariff, and depends on their previous tariff and their eligibility for energy and/or cost of living-related concessions.

Why does Tesla require access to my internet connection?

Since the solar and Powerwall system in SAVPP work together, the signals are sent to the batteries remotely via software and home internet connections (wifi or ethernet) are the best way to do this quickly and reliably, as they typically have stronger signals than cellular (that is, "mobile internet”) connections.
How much data will be used?
Tesla expects each system will use less than 5MB per month.
Will Tesla pay for this internet usage?
No. By agreeing to join the SA VPP, you’re allowing Tesla to access home internet connection and provide a stronger VPP experience for you and those also in the program. Further information will be provided during the installation process.

How is SA VPP different to the Home Battery Scheme?

The Home Battery Scheme is separate from SA VPP and other virtual power plant programs in South Australia.
The Home Battery Scheme provides subsidies and loans to all grid-connected South Australians to assist with the purchase a home battery. If you are looking to purchase a battery or already have a battery, you may choose to enrol it into a virtual power plant either at the time of purchase or at a later stage. To enrol in the Tesla Energy Plan, you must have a Tesla Powerwall.

5. Contact Us

I have more questions - who do I call?

Please contact us via the contact form on this website. Alternatively, you can call Tesla on (08) 7100 1294 with any questions regarding the installation process and to schedule a site assessment.