Vermont Energy Plan Carries Out Gov. Shumlin’s Microgrid Vision

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Gov. Peter Shumlin, an advocate of microgrids and renewables

Vermont outlined a new push for microgrids in a draft state energy plan released for public comment this week.

The 2015 Comprehensive Energy Plan instructs utilities to facilitate microgrids, where appropriate, particularly for critical facilities.

The proposal is in keeping with a vision put forth by Gov. Peter Shumlin in his state-of-the-state address in January. The third-term governor described a future energy model that supplants central generation with “tomorrow’s integrated microgrid” and community scale renewable energy.

Released Sept. 22, 2015 by the Public Service Department, the draft plan uses as a model the Stafford Hill microgrid, a $10 million brownfield project being developed in Rutland. The 2-MW solar microgrid will include a 4-MW electric energy storage system with controllers by Vermont-based Dynapower.

Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest investor-owned utility, is developing Stafford Hill, which is expected to go live before year’s end, according to the draft plan.

The energy plan advises that utilities move forward with microgrids by learning from Stafford Hill and by monitoring the progress of microgrid technology in general. Vermont is particularly interested in microgrids for critical infrastructure. Stafford Hill for example, includes on its circuit a high school that can serve as an emergency shelter.

“As electric circuits around Vermont begin to host more distributed generation, it is becoming increasingly possible to configure storage and enable renewably-powered microgrids,” the draft plan said.

The plan also envisioned the possibility of “many other flavors of microgrids” that vary based on their generation, storage and load control systems, as well as their connection (or not) to the grid.

“In some respects, a homeowner with a backup generator is operating a kind of microgrid. The increasing availability of home electric energy storage, coupled with residential solar PV, could enable individual renewable microgrids,” the energy plan said.

The draft plan also reaffirms Vermont’s aggressive goal set in 2011 to meet 90 percent of its energy needs through renewables by 2050 and provides new details on how to get there.

The plan sets specific goals to:

  • Reduce total energy consumption per capita by 15 percent by 2025, and by more than one third by 2050.
  • Lead up to the 90 percent renewable goal with interim steps of 25 percent by 2025 and 40 percent by 2035, and 90 percent by 2050.
  • By 2025, make renewables 10 percent of the energy used by transportation; 30 percent by buildings; and 67 percent by the electric power sector.

The state expects to finalize the plan by early 2016. Meanwhile, the PSD will hold public hearings around Vermont in October to seek input on the draft. It is also accepting written comments until November 9, 2015. The plan is available here.

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What are your thoughts on the Vermont state energy plan? Post below or on our LinkedIn Group, Community Microgrids and Local Energy.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two 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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