A contractor installs hardware for a Tesla Powerwall battery unit at a home in San Jose, California. | Photo by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla and California utility PG&E launched a new program that will pay eligible Powerwall owners to send extra electricity to the grid when it’s vulnerable to blackouts. Working together, the Powerwalls create a “virtual power plant” that can help keep the lights on during emergencies or energy shortages.

By signing up, Powerwall owners will receive $2 for every additional kilowatt-hour they feed to the grid during designated “events” when the grid is under a lot of stress. That includes any time the California grid operator, CAISO, issues an energy alert, warning or emergency.

Tesla started a similar beta program with PG&E and a couple of other utilities last July, but that was a voluntary program with no payouts. Now, with a monetary…

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