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Thursday, June 20, 2024
HomeCommunityEnvironmentVIEO Launches VI Battery Energy Storage Program (VIBES)

VIEO Launches VI Battery Energy Storage Program (VIBES)

Virgin Islands Energy Office

On Friday, May 24, the Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO) began accepting applications for a new federally funded initiative that aims to reduce the financial hurdles impeding residents from investing in automatic battery backup systems. The Virgin Islands Energy Storage (VIBES) Rebate Program provides up to $4,000 in rebate incentives for the installation of new residential or commercial battery storage systems as long as they are accompanied by either an automatic transfer switch or a smart critical load panel.

In recent months, WAPA has been plagued by a wide range of operational disruptions that have caused increased instances of blackouts across the territory. Stand-alone battery energy storage systems provide an innovative solution to mitigate those disruptions by acting as an uninterruptable power supply for one’s home or small business.  The Virgin Islands Energy Storage program aims to shield the community from the inconveniences of utility outages by reducing the cost barrier to installing stand-alone battery energy storage systems.

The first-come first-serve initiative has been funded with a grant through the State Energy Program Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Virgin Islands Energy Storage program was designed to be part of the solution to the territory’s environmental sustainability goals by reducing the use of portable generators, while simultaneously addressing the ever-growing need for robust and innovative energy resiliency.

To qualify for the program, the person must be a full-time resident of the territory, own a home and/or business, and have an active Water and Power Authority (WAPA) bill in his or her name. Further, the automatic battery backup system must have a capacity between 3 kWh to 14 kWh, as well as be purchased from and installed by a local vendor registered with the VIEO.

By encouraging investment in the next generation of distributed battery storage solutions the VIEO is hoping to help WAPA embrace the latest revolution in electrical power generation that is taking hold in rural jurisdictions everywhere from Vermont to Puerto Rico. Utilities like Green Mountain Power have embraced technology that allows the utility to avoid disruptions caused by excessive energy demands by relying on energy stored in batteries installed in their customers’ homes.

In Puerto Rico, when LUMA foresees power supply shortfalls, a network of residential batteries dispatches stored energy from customers’ homes to stabilize the grid and avoid blackouts and the use of fossil fuel power plants.

Grid-interactive battery systems are able to “speak” to the utility, which in an ideal scenario is a functionality that allows the utility to either draw on energy stored in those systems to help it meet its peak electrical demands, or shed demand from homes that have ample energy resources.

For full program details about the VIBES program or to learn how to apply, visit the VIEO website at www.energy.vi.gov or call the offices at 714-8346 on St. Thomas/ St. John or 713-8436 on St. Croix.  Any update to the Virgin Islands Energy Storage program will also be communicated through social media on Facebook and Instagram.

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