Vermont and ISO-New England offer a compelling case study in the renewable energy transition

Vermont’s CEP (Comprehensive Energy Plan) from 2016 lays out a plan to get 90 percent of its energy from renewables by 2050. This lofty aim implores all citizens to take steps to change the way consume and produce energy in the electric, transportation, as well as heating sectors. Vermont’s power grid is worth investigating because it has made a significant transition toward renewable energy. Renewable energy provides around 80% of Vermont’s power. With the exception of a few peaker units, almost no fossil-fueled facilities are operational in the state, and many are on the verge of being shut down.

The ISO-New England market includes Vermont. The load in Vermont isn’t particularly heavy. winter and summer peaks are equally about 1,000 MW, which is interesting. The climax usually occurs after nightfall throughout the summer. The sole state in ISO-New England’s footprint where this is currently occurring in Vermont, although the peak time trend is advancing later into the day in all 6 states supplied by the market.

The reason for this is that rooftop solar has grown in popularity in the area. Vermont has 434.24 MW of solar capacity installed by the end of 2021, according to ISO-New England. Remember that this represents around 43% of the state’s peak load demand, and it’s entirely distributed generating.

“Almost every school in Vermont got solar on it,” Chris Root, COO of Vermont Electric Power Co. in Rutland, Vermont, remarked during a keynote at the IEEE PES T&D Conference & Exposition, held April 25–28 in New Orleans, Louisiana. “However, we lack substantial solar panels. It’s not like Arizona, where you can plant 300 MW in the desert. In Vermont, the most powerful photovoltaic facility is really only 20 megawatts. This is the distributed resource model that we’re talking about. They’re all over the place, including in people’s homes. They’re in the middle of a field. They’ve landed on a company. However, it is widely dispersed, with the majority of it occurring on distribution and sub-transmission systems.”

Because rooftop solar panels generate electricity throughout the day, they reduce the amount of electricity generated by utilities. After that, when the sun sets, electricity firms must compensate for the lost generation. California’s “Duck Curve” is well-known, but Vermont has its version.

Energy storage is viewed as an important part of coping with the swings. GMP (Green Mountain Power), which serves around 270,000 residential and corporate customers in Vermont, launched a “Home Energy Storage” program that has allegedly been a huge success. There are three possibilities available with the program: Enphase IQ Battery, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), and Tesla Powerwall are all examples of innovative technologies.

Customers can use the BYOD option to get nearly $10,500 toward the purchase of a home battery, or they can lease Tesla Powerwall or Enphase IQ battery systems for $65 and $55 per month, respectively, on a 10-year contract. Clients can save money by prepaying the full lease for $6,500 or $5,500.

Customers must “contribute access to the batteries to minimize power demand during costly energy peaks when individuals are using a lot of energy,” according to GMP, in order to participate in the scheme. By lowering power consumption during energy peaks in 2021, the company stated its developing network of pooled stored energy saved all customers roughly $3 million.

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