Flexible energy provider, PearlX Infrastructure LLC (PearlX), and global leader in smart energy technology, SolarEdge Technologies, Inc. (SolarEdge), are collaborating on a series of first-in-kind residential clean energy projects for renters throughout Texas. Dubbed “Project TexFlex”, the program deploys innovative community solar & storage virtual power plants (VPPs), enabling communities in the region to empower tenants with cost-effective and resilient clean energy.
Project TexFlex will launch its initial VPP at 2410 Waugh Apartments in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston in the first quarter of 2022. Described by PearlX as a “win-win-win,” each VPP provides load-serving and resiliency benefits to consumers, royalty and income streams for its multi-family real estate partners, and flexibility and capacity services to the Texas energy market – allowing utilities to smartly leverage and control a previously untapped pool of available distributed energy resources to support grid stabilization.
Based on a signed agreement with Moonlight Interests, LLC, developer of 2410 Waugh Apartments, PearlX will scale Project TexFlex throughout the multi-family real estate market in Texas. As owner and operator of the project, PearlX will purchase hardware and cutting-edge, cloud-based grid services technology from SolarEdge, while SolarEdge will also provide design and engineering support.
First-of-its-kind initiative to increase accessibility of solar for Texans
With a mission to expand clean energy access and reduce energy poverty, PearlX’s novel underwriting approach will enable multi-family real estate communities engaged in the project to empower lower and middle-income tenants with cost-effective, flexible and resilient community solar & storage. PearlX utilizes a “non-credit” based underwriting method, which allows tenant subscribers who live within TexFlex properties to access the rewards of solar generation and battery storage without the obligation to present an industry-defined adequate credit score.
“Mainstream solar and especially storage has traditionally been an amenity for the wealthy. If you don’t have good credit, you don’t have access,” said Michael Huerta, CEO of PearlX. “Credit is the ability to repay. Electricity is the ability to live. Payment for electricity we believe is the highest form of credit.” Huerta added, “When you look at the data, electric bills are paid before rent, cell phone bills, even car payments."
How Project TexFlex Works
Project TexFlex has the capability to reduce grid strain and outages, while increasing energy resilience across the state. Energy production is becoming distributed, but production still needs to be centrally controlled for grid stabilization. VPPs makes this possible by enabling cloud-based, real-time aggregative control, management and reporting of a pool of distributed energy resources.
This is particularly critical and valuable in the wake of the “Big Freeze” of February 2021, which placed grids under huge strain and caused mass power outages. Utilizing onsite solar, the program will facilitate the delivery of energy back to the grid in near real-time. Utilities are provided with access to stored power when grid stabilization is needed or during energy shortages.
For participating tenants, beyond access to low-cost solar power to reduce their own carbon footprint and electricity bills, they will also gain onsite grid resiliency to help power their home during blackouts, and can simultaneously further reduce energy costs by participating in demand/response events or time-of-use arbitrage programs, where excess solar is diverted to help support the grid.
With the award-winning SolarEdge energy hub inverter and new energy bank battery, PearlX will deploy energy storage as both a grid asset and community storage asset. SolarEdge’s advanced software for grid services also enables behind-the-meter VPPs to receive and respond to onsite and grid level signals.
“Advances in solar & storage technologies are serving as the key enablers that helping to drive the new democratic and distributed energy economy in North America.” said Peter Mathews, SolarEdge General Manager, North America. “Developments in software are providing the grid with an unparalleled level of control to optimize the use of solar for different communities. This is making solar power more available and flexible, so that even renters can benefit from renewable energy.”
In launching this Project, PearlX and SolarEdge are creating a widely replicable, decentralized model that will facilitate Texas’ accelerating energy transition, while offering safeguards against grid failures. At the same time, energy consumers across the state will benefit from more cost-effective and reliable power benefits.
PearlX awarded an EPC contract to Austin based Native Solar to design and construct Project TexFlex. The project is under construction and will be interconnecting through an agreement with CenterPoint Energy in the first quarter of 2022. Following Texas, the project will continue in California and several other US states later in the year.