Green Mountain Power (GMP) is one utility company that’s showing that utilities and solar can get along. The company recently expressed support for an increased net-metering cap in Vermont. GMP has now gone a step further and is partnering with NRG Energy to deploy a series of new products and services for Vermont businesses and residents. NRG already has a presence in Rutland, Vermont, and with this partnership, the companies look to establish Rutland as the energy city of the future.
Beginning in early 2015, the partnership plans to bring innovative clean energy products and services to Vermont, helping customers manage energy use and save money. Central to the effort will be the development of an advanced distribution grid in Rutland. Leveraging NRG’s microgrid capabilities, the two companies expect to transform the distribution grid from a 100-year-old electric delivery model to a market-based platform designed to create efficiencies and distributed energy solutions through renewable technologies and energy storage. While this is a vague description, it seems quite similar to the smart grid.
“This partnership is a really big deal for our customers and for Vermont,” said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. “Our partner NRG Energy is a cutting edge leader in green energy solutions, and they see in Vermont the same potential that we at GMP have recognized for years. Our customers consistently tell us they want tools to save money and move to renewable energy sources, and we can show the rest of the country how to get there. This is what our energy future looks like.”
“Through this partnership, we hope to demonstrate that investing in a 21st century energy eco-system that is more sustainable, resilient, affordable and individually empowering for the people of Vermont is more sensible than pouring more investment into the creaky old grid infrastructure from the 20th century,” said David Crane, President and CEO of NRG. “In the course of so doing, we will also prove that the concepts of ‘electric utility’, ‘renewables’ and ‘personal choice’ are not mutually exclusive.”
Several products and services will be offered through this partnership, including:
- Personal Energy Management: Beginning in 2015, GMP will offer Vermont customers a comprehensive personal energy management solution — a multi-level home control and convenience offering. Subscribing customers may be able to remotely manage energy consumption in their homes to increase comfort and save money. GMP may also offer NRG’s web-based customer technology to provide Vermonters clear insight into electricity use, allowing them to make smarter choices. Customers may also be able to participate in demand response, in which they voluntarily reduce their use of electricity for specific periods in return for payments or credits on their bill.
- NRG Portable Power: GMP will offer NRG’s Portable Power solution, allowing customers to break free from the outlet and charge their smartphones with an NRG Power Pack.
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: GMP will work with NRG’s eVgo division to develop and roll out an expanded, interconnected network of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state, including several charging package options. Both “Level 2” and DC Fast Chargers will be installed in commercial and workplace locations.
- Community Solar: In 2013, NRG Home Solar (formerly Residential Solar Solutions) built one of the first third-party-financed community solar arrays in the country. This array, in Rutland, provides 50 residents and businesses a credit on their GMP bill for their portion of the solar energy produced by the array. Customers pay a small monthly fee and are covered by a power production guarantee. NRG is currently working on additional projects in Vermont as part of the partnership with GMP.
- Micro-power: GMP is working with NRG to offer micro-generation solutions to Vermonters, including NRG’s Beacon 10. These units generate up to 10 kW of electricity, provide heat for water and space heating, and offer battery storage and solar integration capability with onsite solar systems.
- Microgrid: GMP has an ambitious vision for an energy future that takes Rutland and ultimately Vermont beyond the legacy grid system, supported by solar energy and new technology systems that ensure reliable power.
Several of these items in particular show great promise, including personal energy management, community solar, and the microgrid. While the details on these product offerings are yet to be seen, they are at least ambitious — and only time will tell how they pan out.