It’s a small project, but Green Mountain Power’s new $10 million solar/storage project in Rutland, VT, could have a big impact—both in Vermont and throughout the electric utility industry.
The project initially was designed as a simple 2 MW PV farm, and is still called the Stafford Hill Solar Farm, but it has morphed into much more than that. The facility now includes 4 MW of battery storage and islanding capability, and is being touted by the Energy Department as the first of what it hopes will be many “resilient microgrid projects’’ nationwide designed to help utilities and consumers alike cope with the probability of more, and more severe storms and other grid disruptions in the years ahead.
Continue reading Green Mountain Power Embraces The Future
No disrespect to GE, but how can it possibly be news that millions of Americans are willing to pay a little extra for more reliable electric service? That was, in fact, the headline on its press release last week touting the results of a recent consumer survey done for GE Digital Energy by the Harris Poll–Millions of Americans Willing to Pay $10 More on Monthly Bill for Reliable Grid.
Of course Americans are willing to pay for more reliable residential service, just ask the millions who work from home, either part-time or full-time. Going to the neighborhood coffee shop for its free wi-fi really isn’t the same as working out of your home office—trust me, I know.
Continue reading Electric Utilities
Need New Approach
To Customer Needs
Long accustomed to driving trends in U.S. society, the boomers may have met their match with the millennials–a generation (loosely defined as being between 18-33 or so, with some overlap with Gen-Xers, who are now in their mid-late 30s) that is changing attitudes about driving and car ownership. These changes have not received significant national attention as yet, but they have major implications for U.S. energy needs in the coming years.
As the boomers age and naturally drive less, the millennials are entering the stage when driving, measured by vehicle miles traveled, generally reaches its peak—but the historical patterns that have held true for the past 40 years aren’t being repeated today. In an analysis presented at the Energy Information Administration’s summer energy conference, Nancy McGuckin, a travel behavior analyst, showed that the number of miles traveled annually by drivers in the five age cohorts from 16-39 had declined by between 11 and 20 percent from 1995-2009. Because of that, VMT per licensed driver, which had risen steadily for decades prior to the 2000s, peaked in 2006-2007 and has been dropping since—falling from a high of 12,900 miles to about 12,500 in 2012 (figures are from EIA’s 2014 Annual Energy Outlook).
Continue reading Millennials Drive
In A New Direction
Love him or hate him, you have to respect David Crane and his team at Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy for staying on target. Crane, the sprawling energy firm’s president and CEO, has said repeatedly over the past several years that the electric utility industry needs to rethink its approach or face potential obsolescence.
New technologies–economic residential solar and energy storage in particular–are changing the power delivery equation, Crane says, and that requires major changes within the industry if utilities want to remain viable businesses in the years ahead.
In keeping with the company’s desire to do thinks differently, Crane and NRG posted the job ad at right earlier this week. If you know someone that fits the bill, be sure and recommend them–it could be worth $100,000. And for those entrepreneurial utility executives out there looking for a challenge, you can always apply directly. The finder’s fee then goes to charity, but you are still likely to have a fascinating ride at a company determined to help shape the future.