Vermont's largest electric utility is teaming up with a national renewable energy business to implement a series of state-of-the-art energy saving projects, including a new local electrical system in the Rutland area that will eventually be spread across the state.
While Green Mountain Power is Vermont's largest electric utility, it is still small and nimble enough to implement new energy saving ideas that could be proposed by NRG Energy, Green Mountain President Mary Powell said Tuesday in Essex, where she announced the partnership.
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"We can get stuff done, we're partnering on the big picture," Powell said.
NRG Energy is a Fortune 250 company that supports clean energy technologies and serves 3 million residential customers in 47 states through its retail energy companies. The partnership allows NRG Energy to demonstrate that investing in sustainable energy can be affordable.
NRG President David Crane said Vermont is in a position to help lead the country in implementing those new technologies.
"This vision of the future, I think is a fantastic vision, it's going to be based on Vermont values, like independence, like personal choice," Crane said.
Gov. Peter Shumlin said at the Tuesday event that he met Crane during a meeting and introduced him to Powell and Green Mountain Power. Rutland-based Green Mountain has been working for years to turn the city into a showplace for renewable energy that can eventually be spread statewide and beyond.
Some of the ideas that come with the partnership include that Green Mountain customers may be able with the help of NRG Energy products to remotely manage their home energy consumption, electric vehicle infrastructure and have access to more community solar power options.
But officials on Tuesday mostly focused on creating a modern micro-electric grid to deliver electricity to customers.
Powell said the micro-grid they envision would include local sources of power that can make it self-sustaining in an emergency, such as storm-caused power outages.
Powell said talk of a micro-grid does not mean her utility will be building a new distribution system.
"We're not building a second grid. We're taking the existing grid — a good way of thinking of it — and breaking it into smaller pieces that can operate interdependent of the larger grid," Powell said.