Green Mountain Power Builds Microgrid to Revitalize City

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Green Mountain Power has begun building what is believed to be the US’ first solar microgrid in a brownfield landfill,  part of project to revitalize Rutland City.

The Vermont utility is installing 7,700 solar panels that can generate 2 MW, backed up by a 4-MW battery storage system.

Called Stafford Hill Solar Farm, the $10 million microgrid is contributing to an economic development effort in Rutland City, located about 20 miles east of New York.

GMP agreed to create an energy innovation center in the city as a bargaining chip when it was seeking regulatory approval to merge with Central Vermont Public Service in 2012.

Rutland City, which has a population of about 16,000, is trying to become the solar capital of New England and create a model that other communities might emulate.

GMP’s use of the city for green energy innovation “has already breathed new life into our downtown and inspired many of our newest businesses to open,” said Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras.

Louras added that the microgrid “is creating energy and income for the city on property that has no real development opportunity. Equally important, projects like this are putting Rutland on the map in the renewable energy world.”

…the microgrid “is creating energy and income for the city on property that has no real development opportunity. “

National Model

Stafford Hill also is one of the first microgrids in the US powered solely by solar and battery back-up.

The microgrid will supply power to an emergency shelter at Rutland High School during storms. Vermont suffered massage flooding and damage in August 2011 during Hurricane Irene, considered one of the Atlantic’s costliest storms

Lew Milford, president of Vermont-based Clean Energy Group, which manages the Clean Energy States Alliance, described the microgrid as a national model.

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“This new form of resilient power is what all communities need to protect themselves from power outages in severe weather event,” Milford said.

The microgrid also will help GMP meet a projected 400 MW capacity need by 2018, as well as contribute to the state’s goal to be 90 percent renewable by 2050.

GMP expects to generate revenue from the microgrid through ISO New England regulation services, capacity payments, avoided Regional Network Service Charges, and energy arbitrage opportunities.

The microgrid also may increase the power quality on the GMP’s distribution system because the system’s batteries can provide nearly instantaneous voltage regulation, the PSB said.

Costs versus Revenue

In all, GMP expects the microgrid to be cost effective. The utility estimates it will generate about 18.7 cents/kWh in revenue from energy, capacity, transmission, ancillary services, and renewable energy credits. This exceeds the 17.1 cents/kWh nominal levelized cost GMP estimates the solar power will cost over 25 years.

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“This project provides resilient power during emergencies while benefiting the grid at other times. The technical innovations will reduce cost and make the project commercially viable…. This is the perfect project! It has social value, technical innovation, and furthers renewable integration for the grid,” said Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager in the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

The project also has the backing of Gov. Peter Shumlin.

The microgrid is a collaborative effort of GMP, Dynapower and GroSolar. Funding for the storage system comes from a federal-state-NGO partnership that includes the state of Vermont; the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity; and the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership, a project managed by Clean Energy States Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories.

Preliminary site work is under way; GMP expects to complete the project in mid-December.

The solar installation will cost about $5.77 million, and the storage component about $4.2 million, according to the PSB. The utility is making lease payments of about $30,000 per year to the city for use of the landfill.

GMP is installing modules on racking systems that anchored on concrete ballast blocks in crushed stone on 9.5 acres of the landfill cap.

The storage portion includes four 500-kW Dynapower Multiport inverters; four 500 kW/250 kWh rated lithium ion batteries stored inside individual storage containers; and four 500 kW/600 kWh rated advanced lead acid batteries stored inside individual storage.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


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