Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin became the second governor this week to push microgrid development as part of an inaugural speech.
The gubernatorial attention underscores the heightened political awareness of microgrids at the state level.
Ushering in his third term, Shumlin described a future where electric delivery comes predominantly from microgrids and local energy.
“Yesterday’s huge power plant, far away out there somewhere, connected to us by endless poles and wires, will be supplanted by tomorrow’s integrated microgrid, with community scaled renewable energy systems powering our smart, green homes and businesses,” Shumlin said.
Earlier this week, California Gov. Jerry Brown also advocated for more microgrid development in his inaugural address, as he outlined plans to achieve greater greenhouse gas reductions through energy efficiency and renewables.
For Shumlin, microgrid development is part of a new Energy Innovation Program (EIP) that will replace SPEED, Vermont’s program, to promote in-state renewables. SPEED sets a goal to make renewables 55 percent of retail electricity sales by 2017
EIP would set new renewable electricity requirements, since SPEED expires in 2017.
Shumlin is proposing legislation to enact the new program. EIP would: 1) Prioritize community-scale renewable projects and add hundreds of megawatts of new local energy in a state that has a peak demand of only about 1,000 MW; and 2) Create incentives for energy innovation projects that help customers to deeper energy efficiency improvements. These might include utility leasing, on-bill financing or other programs.
Shumlin said he expects the EIP to create over 1,000 additional jobs, save Vermonters hundreds of millions of dollars on energy bills, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 15 million metric tons through 2032 — nearly a quarter of the reductions that state needs to reach its 2050 goal.
Vermont and its major investor-owned utility Green Mountain Power already are pursuing microgrid development. The utility is building a $10 million microgrid in Rutland City, located about 20 miles east of New York. Called Stafford Hill Solar Farm, it is the US’ first solar microgrid in a brownfield landfill. The project includes 7,700 solar panels that can generate 2 MW, backed up by a 4-MW battery storage system.
In addition, GMP and NRG Energy together this year plan to roll out microgrid, community solar, energy management systems, micro-power, personal power, electric vehicle charging and similar distributed energy offerings.
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