Green Mountain Power, which serves nearly ¾ of all utility customers in Vermont, is ramping up its plans to use only renewable power by 2030. The company has been a leader among US utilities when it comes to addressing the emissions created by generating electricity by conventional means.
Starting in 2017, it offered many of its customers the option of installing a Tesla Powerwall residential battery for just $30 a month. One installed, the batteries were networked to act as distributed grid storage for the company. During a heat wave last summer that saw a spike in energy demand, the company was able to draw on the electricity stored in all those batteries to meet peak demand. It says it was able to save $500,000 in the process because it did not have to purchase more expensive electricity from peaker plants.
Now Green Mountain Power says it wants to accelerate its move to 100% renewable energy so that it gets to zero emissions no later than 2030. “There is so much we can accomplish together in Vermont to cut carbon, and at the same time increase reliability for customers in the face of increasingly frequent and severe storms. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes clear, we have to act now, and take bold steps to cut carbon,” Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power, said this week.
“The report issued in October of 2018 shows we have just 12 years to bend back the curve on carbon. Green Mountain Power is determined that through innovation, collaboration and grit, we can make remarkable strides and be the example of the change we want to see and deliver this energy future to benefit the customers we serve.”
The plan calls for achieving 100% carbon free energy by 2025 and 100% renewable by 2030. The company will host a series of events to educate customers about all of the existing technologies available to them to transition to a cleaner, affordable and resilient future.
“As a customer-obsessed energy company, we’ve delivered on our promise to help customers transition to a community-, home-, and business-based energy system that is greener and more resilient through energy storage options like home batteries, and options for charging electric vehicles,” Powell added. “Our partnerships with Efficiency Vermont and the Vermont renewable energy community have been, and will continue to be, critical to making this happen for Vermonters. Our new vision is the next step.”
Part of that vision is an expansion of the residential storage battery program in partnership with Tesla. 2000 Vermonters have already taken advantage of the Powerwall program. “Our vision — our dream — is that there ends up being a battery in every home and business,” Mary Powell said this week. Her company has also supported the adoption of electric cars with a $10,000 rebate for drivers who buy a new Nissan LEAF.
The obvious question is, if Green Mountain Power can do this, why aren’t other utility companies offering similar programs? Yes, giving the utility company control over your Powerwall might sound scary, but with advanced algorithms coupled to weather prediction services, the odds of being left with no juice in your battery when you need it are small.
Kudos to Green Mountain Power for taking an affirmative stance regarding the threat of climate change in a way that helps rather than hurts the bottom line. Hopefully, executives at other utility companies will learn more about what this company is doing and decide to follow suit.
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