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SolarCity sets sights on utility-scale solar, grid services

, the biggestrooftop solar company in the U.S., is expanding into the utility-scale marketwith offerings that include project development and energy storage, as well asportfolios of distributed resources that grid operators can use to improvesystem flexibility and resilience, the company said May 5.

Theplan seems a mirror image of moves that companies such as , which started in the utility-scalesector and expanded into the residential market, have made in recent years.

SolarCity,which bought modulemanufacturer Silevo Inc. and is building a solar cell factory in Buffalo, N.Y.,has ambitions to be in all parts of the solar market as "the mostvertically integrated solar company in the world," as Peter Rive, thecompany's chief technology officer, put it in 2014.

InHawaii, SolarCity is buildinga 13-MW solar plant with battery storage for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. And in California, thecompany is working with EdisonInternational subsidiary SouthernCalifornia Edison Co. on a pilot project to show the value ofaggregating distributed energy resources, including peak shaving and frequencyregulation, SolarCity said.

"Wewant to make sure that our grid is getting continuously worked on to be more ofa two-way, plug-and-play grid that can support solar resources," SoCalEdPresident Pedro Pizarro said on an earnings call May 2.

Accordingto an analysis by GTM Research, the energy storage capacity that expects tosell to SolarCity this year would dwarf the entire U.S. behind-the-meterstorage market last year. Tesla Chairman and CEO Elon Musk is the chairman ofSolarCity.