SunPower, KB Home, University of California, Irvine, Schneider Electric, Southern California Edison and Department of Energy team up to create a blueprint for new home communities of the future
Neighborhoods use solar systems paired with battery storage to create a self-supporting microgrid for sustainable, reliable, grid-supporting energy source
RICHMOND, Calif., Nov. 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ:SPWR), University of California, Irvine (UCI), Schneider Electric, and Southern California Edison (SCE) announced their collaboration with KB Home (NYSE: KBH), as the strategy, research, technology, and energy providers for the homebuilder’s newly launched Energy-Smart Connected Communities in Menifee, California. More than 200 state-of-the-art, all electric homes will be solar powered, equipped with individual battery storage and connected to a microgrid powered by a large, shared community battery. These power-outage resistant communities are the first of their kind in the state and are designed to offer a blueprint for sustainable and resilient new home development of the future.
Residential energy use accounts for roughly 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., contributing to more severe and frequent weather events. Between 2013 and 2020, blackouts caused by events such as snowstorms, wildfires and hurricanes have tripled in duration, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
KB Home, SunPower and UCI joined forces to reimagine what a new home community could look like if built to reduce carbon emissions, cut energy costs, and provide new ways of producing reliable and resilient energy. With a $6.65 million Department of Energy (DOE) grant, microgrid design and engineering support from Schneider Electric, and strong collaboration with SCE to ensure a smooth transition between grid and off-grid electricity, these innovative homes are now available to the public.
“SunPower and KB Home have a long-standing history of leading the new home industry with energy innovation and sustainability,” said Matt Brost, Vice President of Sales, New Homes, at SunPower. “With this project we are taking a large leap toward creating communities from the ground up that are designed to produce sustainable and affordable energy and resiliency to the impacts of climate change on our grid. We are thrilled to leverage our learnings from this project to influence continued innovation in home building.”
Purpose-Built for Sustainability and Resilience
- All 219 of the homes in the new Durango and Oak Shade communities will be built to meet the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home criteria, which include ENERGY STAR®, WaterSense, and Indoor airPLUS. These additional features could help homeowners reduce average energy use by up to 40%. Each home comes with a SunPower Equinox® solar system designed to achieve net-zero energy, a 13kWh SunVault® Storage battery, high efficiency appliances, flexible loads such as electric heat pump water heaters and HVAC systems and other smart technologies like Schneider Electric’s Square D™ Energy Center and Connected Wiring Devices.
- All homes will be pre-wired to be smart Electric vehicle (EV) charger ready, and some will demonstrate bidirectional charging, which enables an EV to be an additional source of energy for the home during a power outage. EV chargers will be available for purchase at the time of sale.
These communities offer a new vision for how individual homes interact with the electrical grid. Every home, while maintaining its regular service with local utility Southern California Edison, is designed to operate during an outage as part of a self-supporting microgrid, drawing energy from its own SunVault storage system as well as a large community battery. Together, they are designed to support critical loads such as lights, refrigeration and WiFi, as well as additional high-capacity loads like HVAC and domestic hot water. When the sun is shining, individual and community batteries can be continually recharged using excess solar generation until the grid connection returns.
Additional energy services offered by SunPower allow residents to enroll in a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) program through which their battery storage, EV chargers and other flexible loads can automatically dispatch to support the electric grid. Enrolled homeowners may be eligible for compensation for their participation in the program. UCI will also simulate the connected microgrids, analyze data from the VPP program, and collaborate with SCE to determine its effectiveness in supporting grid infrastructure.
Joining Forces to Create a New Homes Community of the Future
The project encompasses a unique, multi-disciplinary partnership comprised of several organizations:
- KB Home one of the largest and most recognized homebuilders in the U.S., is responsible for the design and construction of the energy-smart connected new home communities.
- SunPower Corp. conceptualized the project and is the project lead. It will oversee the project partners, provide energy services and technology, and ensure the home energy systems support the microgrid operations. It will also provide solar panels, battery storage and EV charging options for each home.
- The Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) at the University of California, Irvine will acquire and archive data from microgrid events and conduct research to enhance the technologies deployed in similar applications in the future. It will ensure that the microgrid controller meets the national standards that evolved from prior research conducted by APEP for the DOE using the UCI Microgrid as a platform for both the development and demonstration.
- Schneider Electric will be providing home electrical technology, including the smart load panel called the Square D Energy Center and Connected Wiring Devices that integrate and control the distributed energy resources. Additionally, Schneider Electric will design and engineer the community microgrid.
- Southern California Edison is the utility partner providing new power service to the community, managing the grid, assisting in microgrid engineering, ensuring local utility equipment safely and reliably supports microgrid operations and providing cybersecurity review.
“We are excited to partner with industry and academic leaders to bring these advanced technologies and energy solutions to our homeowners. The new KB homes at Oak Shade and Durango at Shadow Mountain will be the first in California to be equipped with smart technologies, a backup battery and microgrid connectivity. These will provide a self-supporting energy system with a community battery that powers the neighborhood,” said Dan Bridleman, Senior Vice-President of Sustainability, Technology and Strategic Sourcing for KB Home. “We look forward to conducting research to measure the energy efficiency and resiliency of our all-new energy-smart connected communities.”
“This is at the cutting edge of the next generation of home developments,” said Scott Samuelsen, Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Environmental Engineering at UCI and the Co-Principal Investigator with SunPower. “For homeowners, the digital and connected future and home charging and discharging of electric vehicles will benefit from the enhanced home energy security provided by microgrid technology.”
“This project represents the future by evolving the smart home into a smart, sustainable community addressing core energy challenges facing homeowners today, including power resiliency and rising utility costs,” said Richard Korthauer, Senior Vice President, Home and Distribution, Schneider Electric. “The new electric future is a home with safe, efficient and reliable power that meets our changing needs, without compromising our cost of living, sustainability goals or comfort.”
“SCE is pleased to support this innovative community microgrid project, and looks forward to supporting others in the future,” said Katie Sloan, SCE Vice President of Customer Programs and Services. “Microgrids can provide resiliency benefits for our customers and help integrate new grid technologies into new community developments.”
For more information, please visit sunpower.com/connectedcommunities.
SunPower is a leading solar and energy services provider in North America. SunPower offers the only solar + storage solution designed and warranted by one company that gives customers control over electricity consumption and resiliency during power outages while providing cost savings. For more information, visit www.sunpower.com.
About KB Home
KB Home is one of the largest and most recognized homebuilders in the United States and has built over 655,000 quality homes in our more than 65-year history. Today, KB Home operates in 47 markets from coast to coast. What sets KB Home apart is the exceptional personalization we offer our homebuyers — from those buying their first home to experienced buyers — allowing them to make their home uniquely their own, at a price that fits their budget. As the leader in energy-efficient homebuilding, KB Home was the first builder to make every home it builds ENERGY STAR® certified, a standard of energy performance achieved by fewer than 10% of new homes in America, and has built more ENERGY STAR certified homes than any other builder. An energy-efficient KB home helps lower the cost of ownership and is designed to be healthier, more comfortable and better for the environment than new homes without certification. We build strong, personal relationships with our customers so they have a real partner in the homebuying process. As a result, we have the distinction of being the #1 customer-ranked national homebuilder in third-party buyer satisfaction surveys. Learn more about how we build homes built on relationships by visiting kbhome.com.
About The Advanced Power and Energy Program (APEP) at the University of California, Irvine
Established in 2000, APEP engages over 120 graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, research staff, and visiting scientists to address the broad utilization of energy resources and the emerging connection of electric power generation, infrastructure, transportation, water resources, and the environment. It seeks to develop, promote, and deploy highly efficient and environmentally sustainable power production and energy conversion, with a focus on the creation and sharing of new knowledge through fundamental and applied research, education, and outreach.
About Schneider Electric
Schneider Electric’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On.
Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and Efficiency.
We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, endpoint to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.
We are the most local of global companies. We are advocates of open standards and partnership ecosystems that are passionate about our shared Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values.
About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE: EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of approximately 15 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.
SunPower Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including, but not limited to, statements regarding expected project plans, product performance, and cost savings. These forward-looking statements are based on our current assumptions, expectations, and beliefs and involve substantial risks and uncertainties that may cause results to materially differ from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, regulatory changes and the availability of economic incentives promoting use of solar energy and fluctuations or declines in the performance of our solar panels and other products and solutions. A detailed discussion of these factors and other risks that affect our business is included in filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from time to time, including our most recent reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q, particularly under the heading “Risk Factors.” Copies of these filings are available online from the SEC or on the SEC Filings section of our Investor Relations website at investors.sunpowercorp.com. All forward-looking statements in this press release are based on information currently available to us, and we assume no obligation to update these forward-looking statements in light of new information or future events.
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