Over 5 MW is in – Nearly 5 MW More is on the Way
By George Harvey
It is hard to keep track of all the things relating to resilience going on in Rutland. Green Mountain Power (GMP) has decided the city will be the “Solar Capital of the Northeast” and seems determined to make that happen. As hard as that might sound, the work goes far beyond a mere installation of sufficient solar to power everybody. It includes efficiency, heat, transportation, and more.
The Stafford Hill Solar Farm is in the news, together with the microgrid it powers. These have won an award, which is reported on page 7 of this issue of Green Energy Times (GET). The solar farm provides two megawatts (MW) of power, and its microgrid includes a four-MW battery, which can supply power to the city’s emergency shelter, together with nearby buildings. Among the buildings are a number of local residences. In the event of a widespread power outage, these buildings will continue being powered with electricity. The principal organizations behind the Stafford Hill Solar Farm are GMP and groSolar. The microgrid should be completed in July, and may be used as a model for others.
The number of solar farms in Rutland is impressive. NRG, NextSun, and the city have also been involved, together with customers, in over a dozen installations of varying size. They range in size from tiny to well over two MW. The total installed so far is well over 5,283 kilowatts (kW). The Stafford Hill Farm will bring the total to 7,793 kW, and there is an additional 2,253 expect to be started this spring, with help from groSolar and Green Lantern.
Making Rutland the Solar Capital includes a lot more than solar. GMP is working with NeighborWorks of Western Vermont and others on home improvements. In fact a hundred homes were targeted for complete makeovers (see the front-page article on Rutland in the June 15, 2014 issue of GET). The improvements include insulation, air sealing, and installation of ventilation systems, heat pumps, appliances, and solar panels. And in case you are wondering, yes – GMP is helping people install their own electric generating systems to reduce their electric bills.
It is our hope that Rutland will serve as a model for resilient energy systems that may become standard for communities of the future. The sorts of things that are happening in Rutland are available to other towns and cities, from the largest to the smallest. With proper planning and care, they can reduce costs right from the start, increase comfort, and lead to a more secure future for all of us.