This summer, two northeastern utilities have launched residential solar and energy-storage pilot projects, designed to reduce ratepayers’ electricity costs while improving the grid’s reliability.

In New York, 300 homeowners are participating in a $15-million Con Edison “virtual power-plant” project, the utility says. SunPower will provide solar storage batteries, while Sunverge will provide the integration.

Ravi Manghani, senior research analyst at Green Tech Media, calls Con Ed’s 1.8-MW residential distributed energy-storage project “the largest to my knowledge.” However, Green Mountain Power’s Tesla pilot project in Vermont will have more deployments—500 versus 300.

Under the Con Ed program, qualified homeowners can lease high-efficiency SunPower solar systems, installed on their homes. For an additional monthly payment, participants will have Sunverge energy battery systems connected to their SunPower systems as insurance in an outage.

Con Edison said it will be able to link together the hundreds of solar-plus-storage systems into a “virtual power plant” that can act as a local generation resource to supply power to the grid during peak usage periods.

“Integrated solar and storage enhances value to the grid by providing a dispatchable renewable power source that Con Edison can control and rely on in real time,” said Matthew Ketschke, Con Edison’s vice president of distributed resource integration.

Green Mountain Power on May 4 began installing Tesla Powerwall batteries for 10 families, says a GMP spokeswoman.

GMP President and CEO Mary Powell says, “The Tesla Powerwall is a big step forward [in] the way we generate and use energy. This is all about delivering on what our customers need to move away from the antiquated, bulk power system to one that is cleaner and more reliable, where we generate power closer to where it’s used.”