Utility says ‘get off the grid!’


Vermont utility Green Mountain Power now offers services to help customers leave the grid and make use of their own stored energy to reduce pressure on the grid.

This forms part of the utility’s efforts to manage peak demand, especially during the current heat wave, producing record high temperatures.

Green Mountain Power (GMP) staff will visit properties and design independent electricity systems. Then, the utility will finance, install, and maintain it for a monthly fee.

Thus far, only one customer is moving forward with a fully off-grid system. But as renewable technology develops and gets less expensive, GMP says utilities should get ready to embrace this option for customers.

Vermont embraces battery energy storage

GMPs storage solution comprises a network of Tesla Powerwall batteries in Vermonters’ homes, stored solar power from GMP’s Stafford Hill Solar Facility in Rutland and GMP’s new battery storage project in Panton. Combined, that’s enough power to remove about 5,000 homes from the grid during the peak.

So far, Vermonters have installed nearly 500 Powerwall batteries in their homes. They provide backup power, like a generator, but are fueled by customers’ own solar arrays.

They provide clean, convenient backup power during outages and GMP can share access to stored energy to decrease power demand at key times to drive down costs for all customers.

According to CEO of GMP, Mary Powell, it may seem counter-intuitive to encourage customers to invest in systems that would take them off the grid, however, going off-grid can make financial sense in some remote areas. It can also appeal to consumers who are eager to use renewables and be more self-sufficient.

“We know our customers are environmentally conscious and make smart choices about their energy use every day. In this heat wave, our customers’ safety and comfort is key. We are so glad to be able to leverage innovation like battery storage to bring down costs for customers and keep them comfortable and safe,” said Josh Castonguay, vice president and chief innovation officer at GMP.

Castonguay further states: “Our growing network of stored energy is allowing us to use technology, in partnership with our customers, to deliver innovative solutions today.”

Approximately two years ago, the electricity services firm installed a system of solar panels and battery storage in the remote campgrounds at Emerald Lake State Park. Since then GMP is spending less on maintaining old power lines and antiquated infrastructure.