Sonoma Co. winery installs Tesla's home battery system

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - Tesla's announcement Thursday night of a home energy battery storage system could provide consumers with more freedom from the power grid and lower prices overall.

That's noteworthy because Pacific Gas & Electric's higher summer prices kicked in Friday.

The eight Jackson Family Wineries, including world famous Kendall-Jackson, started installing Tesla commercial size battery storage systems six months ago.

Currently, the batteries are charged at night when power from the grid is the cheapest.

Since the wineries use the most power in the afternoon, when power prices are the highest, they can switch over to battery power and save lots of money.

"The plan with these batteries, in this particular case is to focus on peak demand," says Julien Gervreau, the Jackson Family Wines Senior Sustainability Manager.

To save even more money, the Jackson family is deploying the wine industry's largest solar array that will eventually supply half of all their power needs and charge the batteries.

"Electricity is only getting more expensive. So, any way we can store it and become more self-reliant, that's ultimately a good thing," says Gervreau.

Now, Tesla will begin selling smaller systems for homes, especially those that already have or will soon have solar.

"Having lithium ion batteries and small units that are compact, that integrate easily to a home's electrical system; there's not a product like that out on the market yet and I personally believe that that is the future for energy storage," says Eric Miller Founder of Pac Solar, a company that installs solar systems throughout the Bay Area.

Tesla's home batteries can be from low cost night time grid power or solar power, allowing consumers to pick their price.

Assuming an average PG&E electric bill, the $3,500 system - purchased or leased - would pay for itself in three to four years.

Over a 10 year period, average PG&E customers would save double that in lower bills. "Instead of buying very expensive energy, peak energy from PG&E, you can use the energy from the battery," says Miller.

This game changing technology could cost utilities a lot of lost electricity sales as consumers - big and small - become more self-reliant.