Vermont Moves Toward Green Energy With Help From Utility Company

Vermont Moves Toward Green Energy With Help From Utility Company
User Avatar
12 months ago

Imagine if the role of a utility company wasn’t to make money by charging you for energy, but instead to partner with you on power production. That’s the goal of Green Mountain Power, a local utility company in Vermont making homes, neighborhoods and towns sources of their own energy through a program turning large-scale transmission lines into small-scale power systems. Consider it a glimpse of how power grids will work in the very near future.

A fresh take on how utilities ought to work. 

Green Mountain Power (GMP) in 2014 became the first energy utility company to register as a B Corp, has made headlines in the last several years for doing the unthinkable: actually helping its customers cut down on energy costs. That included the company’s eHome program that offered “energy makeovers” to clients in order to reduce utility bills and conserve resources.

In 2015 the company offered various buying and leasing options for Tesla Powerwall batteries. That program was expanded in May with a new package offering the battery for just $15 every month for 10 years (or a paid-in-full option for $1,500) that includes a Nest thermostat and other software allowing residents to control home energy by app.

And now, GMP is helping its customers get off the grid once and for all.

Green Mountain Power’s CEO is thinking big.

The green programs are the brainchild of Mary Powell, who became CEO of GMP in 2008 and immediately began the ambitious work of greening a utilities company.

Since then, GMP has ballooned from serving 88,000 customers to 260,000 today. The programs from the utility company keep rolling out, and have led to Rutland having the most solar power per capita in New England, among other milestones.

Instead of using power, we can all just make our own. 

Getting homes, neighborhoods and towns off-grid means turning them into their own power sources—a move that provides many returns, environmentally and economically.

“Customers, especially in Vermont with the energy-independence values that people have, want to move more toward self-generation,” Powell told the New York Times. She added that her hope is to turn the power-hungry electric system into a “community-, home- and business-based energy system.”

Spent the day touring our client #greenmountainpower mountain-top wind farm in northern Vermont!

A post shared by Brault & Barnes Design (@braultbarnes) on

Financially, having homes off-grid means fewer fees the utility has to pay regional transmitters. Environmentally, that also means batteries can offset energy use in homes, neighborhoods and towns utilizing the program, thereby lowering carbon emissions. An example of this program in motion is a nearby low-income development that GMP got off-grid for two hours for an estimated $275 savings in transmission. That’s just a drop in the bucket for how much could be saved—by GMP and its customers—if renewable energy was being tapped 24 hours at a time by entire towns.

Putting the controls in the hands of consumers also means increasing their ability to manage their at home energy use. That too lowers consumption—and bills.

Green Mountain Power’s system is infinitely replicable. 

GMP’s design for creating off-grid communities demonstrates almost endless potential for neighborhoods and towns throughout the United States, and even the world.

“Having more customers go off-grid may allow GMP to retire more line sections over time, reducing maintenance costs that will directly lower costs for all customers,” GMP says on its website. That means increased savings for utility company and consumer alike. And that’s an idea everyone—for financial and environmental reasons—can easily get behind.   

RecircNewsBelize's Barrier Reef Is Off Endangered List After Banning Oil Activity

Belize has saved the second-biggest coral reef in the world, which provides food and  economical benefits to the Central American country. After passing legislation to ban oil exploration, UNESCO has taken it off their endangered list.

By Brian Spaen
3 weeks ago
RecircNewsThis Beluga Whale Sanctuary In Iceland Is Officially Welcoming New Residents

Beluga whales are heading from China to a new home on an Icelandic island that brings them closer to a natural habitat. Multiple organizations are not only providing them a better home, but are hoping that other entertainment parks follow in their footsteps.

By Brian Spaen
3 weeks ago
RecircNewsWhy This Dutch Town Installed Bat-Friendly LED Street Lights

To keep rare bat species in an area where they thrive, a community that's already created nearly 100 sustainable homes is changing their street lights. These new red LED bulbs will allow humans to continue operating at night while the bats can avoid it.

By Brian Spaen
1 month ago
RecircNewsEndangered Mountain Gorilla Population Is On The Rise Despite Challenges

Mountain gorillas remain an endangered species, but conservation efforts such as regulated tourism and habitat protection has increased their population over the last 35 years. It's jumped 25 percent in a specific African region in the past eight years.

By Brian Spaen
2 months ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our newsletter