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Autogrid flex save program.

Installing solar-plus-storage is a great way to save money. We all use electricity, and the electricity produced by solar panels is less expensive than what you would otherwise purchase from the grid, meaning solar can help you save significantly over decades while your panels produce electricity. But solar and storage do more than help you save on your electric bills: combined, they can help reduce the overall cost of electricity to the grid (see our recent guest post from Synapse Energy Economics).

While solar and storage systems have historically provided that benefit to the grid for free, that's all changing: AutoGrid, a provider of AI-powered clean energy software solutions, now helps you get compensated for stabilizing the grid with their Flex Saver program. The best part? EnergySage is partnering with AutoGrid to put extra cash in the pockets of our customers who install solar and storage in California. Here's how it works.

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Key takeaways

  • AutoGrid allows you to be compensated for helping improve the grid's stability, reducing emissions and costs for the grid.

  • The Flex Saver program provides a $1,000 incentive to solar-plus-storage owners in SCE's service territory in California to use power from their batteries instead of the grid during periods of high demand.

  • EnergySage has partnered with AutoGrid to bring these benefits to our customers in California: get started with a solar-plus-storage system today to participate in this program or click here if you live in California and already have solar and storage installed.

AutoGrid is a venture-backed cleantech company building AI-powered clean energy software applications. They have a suite of products that provide utility-scale, commercial, and residential energy solutions, from EV fleet management to microgrids and commercial demand response programs to distributed energy resource aggregation–like the Flex Saver program!

According to Guidehouse research, AutoGrid is the world's #1 provider of virtual power plant solutions through their AutoGrid Flex platform. AutoGrid runs Flex Saver programs via this platform throughout California – in Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Clean Power Alliance utility service territories. At a high level, the Flex programs allow AutoGrid to aggregate consumer-sited resources (i.e., demand-side resources) to provide a greater impact at the grid scale. These aggregated resources can replace the need for new and existing fossil-fueled power, reducing emissions and electricity costs for everyone on the grid.

Energy markets are complex things, but here's our super quick rundown of what you need to know to understand how the Flex Saver program works:

A lot goes on behind the scenes to maintain and operate a stable and reliable electricity grid so that the lights go on when you flip a switch in your home. In deregulated energy markets in the U.S., each service has a price and a cost associated with it. Historically, large, centralized power plants or grid-scale devices have provided these grid services, like synchronous condensers for inertia and frequency regulation. (Trust us there.) But batteries can provide many of these grid services, especially when paired with solar panel systems. And many battery systems already provide these types of services without necessarily receiving any benefit.

While access to many of these grid-services markets may be limited for individual solar and storage installations, an aggregator of demand-side resources like AutoGrid can pool these resources to provide the same benefit as a power plant or other grid-scale devices–a virtual power plant! (We'll explain virtual power plants in more detail below.) This has two main benefits: first, it means that residential solar-plus-storage systems can combine to have a greater impact in contributing to the stabilization and reliability of the grid, and second, it means that individual homeowners can access revenue streams that previously wouldn't be available to them.

In the case of AutoGrid's Flex Saver program, in particular, the process is even simpler than this: at its core, the cost of electricity increases when demand increases. By pulling from batteries instead of the grid during periods of high demand, you can reduce the overall demand for electricity on the grid, reducing the price of electricity during those periods. It turns out that it's cheaper to pay individual homeowners to reduce demand (via AutoGrid) than it is to build new power plants or to pay to run the infrequently-used, high-cost power plants.

The Flex Saver program is very straightforward: AutoGrid pays you in exchange for reducing your home's demand on the grid during certain periods. And since this program requires participants to have a solar-plus-storage system installed, participants can reduce demand on the grid simply by using solar power stored in their batteries–no change in consumption patterns required!

Here's what you can expect as a participant in the Flex Saver program:

  • Participants will receive an incentive of $1,000, paid out throughout the three-year program.

  • During the program, AutoGrid will request you to use electricity from your battery instead of from the grid when the grid is stressed (typically on summer weekdays between 4 and 9 pm), with requests lasting no more than a few hours. They'll have access to your battery and will "activate the advanced capabilities" of your storage system to help stabilize the grid.

  • The program will never deplete your battery past a 20% charge, ensuring that you always have a reserve of backup energy in a grid emergency. (And AutoGrid will never call an event during a public safety power shutoff or grid outage event.)

  • AutoGrid anticipates 50 to 100 events across the three-year program period.

  • And finally, participants must live in the Southern California Edison (SCE) utility service territory and have a solar-plus-storage system installed.

Importantly, at the moment, only two brands of batteries qualify for the Flex Saver program: a sonnen battery or an LG Energy Solutions (formerly LG Chem) battery installed with a SolarEdge storage inverter. Since AutoGrid needs to communicate with your battery system directly and see specific performance data (i.e., how did your battery respond to the request?), the program requires a special integration and partnership between AutoGrid and the battery or inverter manufacturer. AutoGrid is actively working on partnerships with different manufacturers. If you have another type of battery installed, watch for future announcements from AutoGrid about battery compatibility with the program.

To participate in the Flex Saver program, you need to be a solar-plus-storage owner living in SCE's service territory with a sonnen or LG Energy Solutions battery. If you already fit that description, click here to learn more about and enroll in the AutoGrid Flex Saver program. If you live in SCE's service territory and want to participate in the program, EnergySage can help you get started. By signing up for a free account on EnergySage today, we'll gather you custom solar and storage quotes from high-quality solar installers in your area.

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