SunPower, the University of California, Irvine (UCI), Schneider Electric and Southern California Edison (SCE) announced their partnership with KB Home as the strategy, research, technology and energy providers for the homebuilder’s newly launched Energy-Smart Connected Communities in Menifee, California. More than 200 all-electric homes will be solar-powered, equipped with individual energy storage systems and connected to a microgrid powered by a large, shared community battery. These power-outage resistant communities are designed to offer a blueprint for sustainable and resilient new home development of the future.
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, VP of sales for 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.”
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. Each home comes with a SunPower Equinox solar system, a 13-kWh 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. 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.
Additional energy services offered by SunPower allow residents to enroll in a virtual power plant (VPP) program through which their battery, EV chargers and other flexible loads will automatically dispatch to support the electric grid. Enrolled homeowners will 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.
“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 VP 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 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 VP of home and distribution for 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.”
News item from SunPower