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Storm Watch failed us again [in MA, Late July 2021]

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,796
12,504
Riverside Co. CA
No matter what, what appears to have happened to @jlv1 and @Er1c* , which is "there is a severe storm, some utility controlled program triggers draining powerwalls that ignores the reserve "I" set drains my powerwalls and now there is a power outage and my powerwalls are almost empty"... should never be a situation that happens, at least in my opinion.
 

jlv1

Twice as much fun
Oct 14, 2015
516
514
Central MA
I spoke to someone at Tesla Energy. Storm Watch events are tied to specific warning language from the NWS, and "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" is not something that triggers an event.

While I like the VPP payment (coincidentally enough, I just got my first check yesterday), I'm rethinking about having my system in the program.
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,331
1,051
Silver Spring, MD
No matter what, what appears to have happened to @jlv1 and @Er1c* , which is "there is a severe storm, some utility controlled program triggers draining powerwalls that ignores the reserve "I" set drains my powerwalls and now there is a power outage and my powerwalls are almost empty"... should never be a situation that happens, at least in my opinion.
I don't necessarily agree. If the rules of the program are clear, then the customer can make an informed decision. The incentives are high enough that, along with other PW incentives, the PW can be a money-maker for a customer. So a customer can decide that incentive - rather than just backup power - can be the reason for the purchase. And, since it does still retain some backup capability (in particular, during the winter, when the grid in that area does tend to be susceptible to more outages) it still can serve some of that purpose. That said, it would be nice if Tesla offered options for other reserve levels, perhaps with a minimum commitment.

The problem I see with the program is that the rules are not entirely clear. While the 20% reserve is clearly stated, the definition of "severe storms" is not. I would logically expect a "severe thunderstorm warning" to be a subset of "severe storms", but it turns out Tesla and/or the utilities do not see it that way. As a result, I very much understand why somebody who enrolled would be upset to discover the program does not operate in the way they might reasonably have expected.

A potential solution to the reserve issue would be to essentially let you choose the amount of kWh, perhaps with a minimum of 10 kWh, you want to commit to the program. It would be fixed for the duration, but would essentially allow people with 2+ PWs to participate but still maintain a higher reserve than 20% (which would roughly be the reserve with 1 PW, committing 10 kWh to the program.) Most likely, this would result in customers setting a higher effective reserve, which would hurt the program. But, more customers who won't accept the forced 20% reserve might be willing to commit if they could enroll in a way that allows more like a 50% reserve.
 

cali8484

Member
Jul 8, 2018
282
161
California
I spoke to someone at Tesla Energy. Storm Watch events are tied to specific warning language from the NWS, and "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" is not something that triggers an event.

While I like the VPP payment (coincidentally enough, I just got my first check yesterday), I'm rethinking about having my system in the program.

Does Tesla tell you what is the specific NWS language that triggers grid charging?
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,331
1,051
Silver Spring, MD
Does Tesla tell you what is the specific NWS language that triggers grid charging?
Note that Storm Watch only activates during severe storms that are likely to knock down power lines and cause outages, like hurricanes and ice storms. To best protect yourself from everyday weather events, keep a high reserve percentage or choose Backup-Only. As your Powerwall learns more about the type of storms that typically cause outages, events that trigger Storm Watch will be adjusted.
This is the default definition, and I expect that they also use this for the Connected Solutions and other VPP programs. While it sounds like jlv1 got some specific information for their situation, it does not seem like Tesla generally publishes the list of events. However, from reports of users on this forum, severe thunderstorms seem to be generally, if not universally, excluded. It seems like NWS warnings for Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Ice Storms, Winter Storms, and Red Flag (high fire danger) are among those that trigger it (and I'm sure there are others.) It also seems Tesla will attempt to trigger it when they are aware of a planned power shutoff for an area (in particular, the PSPS events in CA) though it is not clear that this is as automated as the NWS rules.

A lot of this language, and what I quoted above regarding the Connected Solutions program, seems to focus on enabling storm watch/suspending VPP draws when there is an enhanced threat of widespread outages that could require days to restore. Although this can be true with severe thunderstorms, they are probably more likely to result in a smaller number of outages that can also be repaired in a shorter time.
 
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jlv1

Twice as much fun
Oct 14, 2015
516
514
Central MA
I thought I'd previously posted here on my earlier Storm Watch disappointment, but it was elsewhere. That was less than a month ago when the remnants of Elsa blew through. We were only in a Flood Warning, which also doesn't trigger a Storm Watch event. However, we had 60MPH+ wind gusts. We live in a heavily wooded area and our connection is at the far edge of the grid. This often results in outages we're often last to get power restored. That event didn't cause us to lose power like we did yesterday.

In the 8 months we've had the PWs, we've had 12 actual outages. I'm really beginning to think VPP isn't compatible with my needs.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,796
12,504
Riverside Co. CA
Does Tesla tell you what is the specific NWS language that triggers grid charging?

Tesla only seems to activate stormwatch mode for the highest level of alert for a specific condition. I believe thats normally "advisory". Additionally, not all advisories trigger stormwatch, but for sure nothing below the highest level of an alert triggers it.

NWS definitions are here:


The levels go "watch -->warning-->advisory" in increasing warning levels. I have had stormwatch mode trigger several times by my home for "wind advisories" for example, because in our area there are powerlines that are not buried, so high winds can potentially blow down powerlines.

What might be missing in this case is what the "storm" notifications were (were they the highest level of alert?) and if tesla has that area tagged as stormwatch enabled for the highest level alert of that type of weather. I dont know, just detailing what I have observed.
 
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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,796
12,504
Riverside Co. CA
I thought I'd previously posted here on my earlier Storm Watch disappointment, but it was elsewhere. That was less than a month ago when the remnants of Elsa blew through. We were only in a Flood Warning, which also doesn't trigger a Storm Watch event. However, we had 60MPH+ wind gusts. We live in a heavily wooded area and our connection is at the far edge of the grid. This often results in outages we're often last to get power restored.

I am almost positive that a "warning" wouldnt trigger stormwatch... unless thats the highest level of alert for that type of weather event, which is unlikely, There is probably a "flood advisory", type weather event, which is what you would have to be under for stormwatch to trigger.

You may be dealing with a situation where the NWS is not assigning the proper alert categories to your specific region or something.

EDIT:... looking at the NWS link I posted, it does look like "flood warning" is the highest level of flood alerts, so then you are dealing with the issue that tesla did not activate stormwatch for that for your area.
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,331
1,051
Silver Spring, MD
Tesla only seems to activate stormwatch mode for the highest level of alert for a specific condition. I believe thats normally "advisory". Additionally, not all advisories trigger stormwatch, but for sure nothing below the highest level of an alert triggers it.

NWS definitions are here:


The levels go "watch -->warning-->advisory" in increasing warning levels. I have had stormwatch mode trigger several times by my home for "wind advisories" for example, because in our area there are powerlines that are not buried, so high winds can potentially blow down powerlines.

What might be missing in this case is what the "storm" notifications were (were they the highest level of alert?) and if tesla has that area tagged as stormwatch enabled for the highest level alert of that type of weather. I dont know, just detailing what I have observed.
This is not correct - warnings are higher alert levels than advisories - see Watch Warning Advisory Explained

WARNINGA warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.
ADVISORY An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
WATCHA watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.

Tesla may well be activating storm watch based on advisories - that is perfectly reasonable - but an advisory is for less severe conditions, as in your example, where a Wind Advisory is for 31-39 mph sustained winds (or 46-57 mph gusts) where a High Wind Warning is issued for 40 mph sustained/58 mph gusts.
 
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jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,796
12,504
Riverside Co. CA
This is not correct - warnings are higher alert levels than advisories - see Watch Warning Advisory Explained



Tesla may well be activating storm watch based on advisories - that is perfectly reasonable - but an advisory is for less severe conditions, as in your example, where a Wind Advisory is for 31-39 mph sustained winds (or 46-57 mph gusts) where a High Wind Warning is issued for 40 mph sustained/58 mph gusts.

I was reading it wrong (wouldnt be the first time). Thanks for the correction. The general gist that tesla seems to only activate stormwatch for the "highest level" of alert, I feel is correct. I had them in the wrong order.
 

cali8484

Member
Jul 8, 2018
282
161
California
Tesla only seems to activate stormwatch mode for the highest level of alert for a specific condition. I believe thats normally "advisory". Additionally, not all advisories trigger stormwatch, but for sure nothing below the highest level of an alert triggers it.

NWS definitions are here:


The levels go "watch -->warning-->advisory" in increasing warning levels. I have had stormwatch mode trigger several times by my home for "wind advisories" for example, because in our area there are powerlines that are not buried, so high winds can potentially blow down powerlines.

What might be missing in this case is what the "storm" notifications were (were they the highest level of alert?) and if tesla has that area tagged as stormwatch enabled for the highest level alert of that type of weather. I dont know, just detailing what I have observed.

Given the feature works based on NWS definitions then it's kinda of misleading/confusing to call it "Storm Watch" when a NWS Watch level warning would not trigger grid charging.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,796
12,504
Riverside Co. CA
Given the feature works based on NWS definitions then it's kinda of misleading/confusing to call it "Storm Watch" when a NWS Watch level warning would not trigger grid charging.
"storm watch" is catchier than "storm warning", lol. Also, its not promised to trigger all the time, so "its watching" but not always activating, so its a pretty appropriate name, actually, at least in my opinion.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,468
3,468
Northern California
I don't necessarily agree. If the rules of the program are clear, then the customer can make an informed decision. The incentives are high enough that, along with other PW incentives, the PW can be a money-maker for a customer. So a customer can decide that incentive - rather than just backup power - can be the reason for the purchase. And, since it does still retain some backup capability (in particular, during the winter, when the grid in that area does tend to be susceptible to more outages) it still can serve some of that purpose. That said, it would be nice if Tesla offered options for other reserve levels, perhaps with a minimum commitment.

The problem I see with the program is that the rules are not entirely clear. While the 20% reserve is clearly stated, the definition of "severe storms" is not. I would logically expect a "severe thunderstorm warning" to be a subset of "severe storms", but it turns out Tesla and/or the utilities do not see it that way. As a result, I very much understand why somebody who enrolled would be upset to discover the program does not operate in the way they might reasonably have expected.

A potential solution to the reserve issue would be to essentially let you choose the amount of kWh, perhaps with a minimum of 10 kWh, you want to commit to the program. It would be fixed for the duration, but would essentially allow people with 2+ PWs to participate but still maintain a higher reserve than 20% (which would roughly be the reserve with 1 PW, committing 10 kWh to the program.) Most likely, this would result in customers setting a higher effective reserve, which would hurt the program. But, more customers who won't accept the forced 20% reserve might be willing to commit if they could enroll in a way that allows more like a 50% reserve.
Incentives being high depends on where you are. Here in California, the incentive is $0.00/kW. As it is defined, neither Tesla nor you get any money for those kWh they pull from your Powerwalls.

Maybe you get a warm feeling, but you know what they say about black suits and warm feelings
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,331
1,051
Silver Spring, MD
Given the feature works based on NWS definitions then it's kinda of misleading/confusing to call it "Storm Watch" when a NWS Watch level warning would not trigger grid charging.
The name is just a bit of marketing. But setting that aside, it is all something of a black box for users. I suspect part of the reason it is fairly strict with when it activates is that it does exist in something of a gray area. That is, while the concept is great and supports both the customers and the public good, both the generally-understood terms of the ITC and some utility rules/interconnection agreements could be read to prohibit any grid charging. So, by minimizing the number of events and its usage, I think Tesla avoids too many questions about how it meshes with all the various regulations that exist. (And, ideally, there would be improvement on the rules/regulations front.)

There does have to be some balance too, though, as there are areas where thunderstorm watches are almost a daily event in summer, as an example. Customers at some level need to make their own decisions on why they want to have and how they want to use their batteries, whether purely for backup, grid independence, to support the grid, price arbitrage, or some combination of reasons. And those choices have their own costs, benefits, and risks. Plus, it will never capture everything. Just two days ago, we had some of the most severe weather here I've seen in years - near-sideways rain, trash everywhere (had to be the night before pickup), and hundreds of trees down in the area. But most of us never got a severe storm watch, let alone a warning, because the severity was completely unexpected. But thousands still lost power (we had many flickers, causing the PW to take over, but never a total power loss.)
 
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wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,331
1,051
Silver Spring, MD
Incentives being high depends on where you are. Here in California, the incentive is $0.00/kW. As it is defined, neither Tesla nor you get any money for those kWh they pull from your Powerwalls.

Maybe you get a warm feeling, but you know what they say about black suits and warm feelings
I agree, and this thread (and my comments) are specific to the program Tesla is operating in the northeast. But that said, even with the voluntary program in CA, as long as they are very clear on the terms so customers can make an informed decision, I don't have an issue. Beyond that, I would leave comment on the CA program to that thread.
 

jboy210

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Dec 2, 2016
5,468
3,468
Northern California
I agree, and this thread (and my comments) are specific to the program Tesla is operating in the northeast. But that said, even with the voluntary program in CA, as long as they are very clear on the terms so customers can make an informed decision, I don't have an issue. Beyond that, I would leave comment on the CA program to that thread.
Sorry, there is nothing in the title that implied with is MA program-specific and numerous people on the West Coast have replied. Perhaps @bmah or @jjrandorin can retitle or split this thread.
 

jjrandorin

Moderator, Model 3, Tesla Energy Forums
Nov 28, 2018
10,796
12,504
Riverside Co. CA
Sorry, there is nothing in the title that implied with is MA program-specific and numerous people on the West Coast have replied. Perhaps @bmah or @jjrandorin can retitle or split this thread.

Well...

This thread is an individuals description of what happened to them with the lack of storm watch mode activating, while they are a member of one of the demand response programs. The program they happen to be a member of is one of the ones apparently offered on the east coast.

This program appears to differ from the recently introduced program in CA from a compensation standpoint, and also a bit in the execution.

With that being said, both this thread and the other one are both talking about demand response programs in general, and people from both places are commenting in both. While the program specifics are getting inter mingled, I dont feel its out of bounds for people to discuss their thoughts, opinions etc on the programs in general in both of the threads.

Some can be speaking specifically about the program that the OP is in, or similar, while others can compare and contrast that with what tesla is asking powerwall owners in CA to sign up for. I think that it might be good to add a location to the end of the thread title, in this thread, but I dont think things need to be split out or anything.
============================

(moderator note)

Added location and approximate timeframe to thread title for reference.
 

cwied

Member
Jan 13, 2015
887
643
San Mateo, CA
The main thing I would point out is that some people might mistakenly get the impression that the issue the OP experienced would also apply to the California VPP. That is not the case since the California VPP allows contributors to set a backup reserve and opt out at any time. The Northeast VPPs offer compensation in exchange for the lack of this flexibility,

In practice, since I'm a net consumer on NEM 1.0, my compensation could be somewhere between $.10-$.30 / kWh due to price arbitrage between charging and discharging time periods.
 
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getakey

Active Member
Jan 28, 2020
1,441
471
95762
The main thing I would point out is that some people might mistakenly get the impression that the issue the OP experienced would also apply to the California VPP. That is not the case since the California VPP allows contributors to set a backup reserve and opt out at any time. The Northeast VPPs offer compensation in exchange for the lack of this flexibility,

In practice, since I'm a net consumer on NEM 1.0, my compensation could be somewhere between $.10-$.30 / kWh due to price arbitrage between charging and discharging time periods.
Isn't the Reserve controlled by the App? Does the app function differently in the NE versus CA?
 

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