Vermont Municipal leading way for Public Power Utilities seeking Microgrid connections

July 5, 2023
The DEED grant from APPA aids Stowe in designing frameworks for small rural utilities considering the integration of microgrids and distributed energy resources into their grids.

A small municipal utility in Vermont is exploring best practices for integrating microgrids into rural power systems.

The Stowe Electric Department received a Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Developments grant from the American Public Power Association. The DEED grant from APPA aids Stowe in designing frameworks for small rural and municipal utilities considering the integration of microgrids and distributed energy resources into their grids, according to the APPA release.

The framework focused on using existing talent within the municipals instead of relying on outside consultants and merchant operators. Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy selected three projects—including one involving Stowe Electric Department longtime partner University of Vermont—to develop the DOE’s energyshed concept trying to help communities understand the integration of on-site power resources.

“We used the energyshed concept to inform our microgrid feasibility study to look at the potential to install a renewable or net-zero microgrid,” according to the DEED report that Stowe Electric Department filed, as recounted in the APPA release.

Those energyshed concepts are destined to be shared across the nation’s smaller utilities once refined, according to the APPA.

Stowe Electric Department previously gained APPA’s Energy Innovator Award for its work with the University of Vermont. This partnership began two years ago to focus on numerous aspects of energy utilization.

Microgrids are often the development of non-utility partnerships between companies building the projects and customers such as military bases, industrial producers and other mission critical sites such as transit services. Many utilities both large and small, however, are increasingly adopting cohesive distributed energy resources—connecting solar, battery storage and gen-sets—into microgrids serving specific, on-site customers.

Duke Energy, Consumers Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric are among the larger-scale utilities building microgrid projects across the country. Vermont's largest utility, Green Mountain Power, also plans to create new microgrids. 

Stowe Electric Department provides power to more than 4,000 customers in the northern Vermont community.

About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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