Vermont’s State House is first in the nation to have clean backup power stored in batteries – using a GMP program to help lower costs for all Vermonters. Vermont State officials, and leaders from Northern Reliability Inc., Dynapower Corporation, Virtual Peaker and Green Mountain Power (GMP) were joined by state officials and legislative leaders to make the announcement last week during a virtual news conference, Vermontbiz.com reports.
The backup system received an allocation of $450,000, which was originally to replace the old diesel system. However, in committee lawmakers raised the idea of using a battery backup. A new diesel system would have required relocating the diesel engine outside and even blasting ledge outside the State House cafeteria. The new battery system resides in the basement as the old one did.
The new battery backup has not been employed yet as there has not been a peak event yet. GMP president and CEO Mari McClure noted that peak energy events rely on the most the expensive and typically “the dirtiest” fuels available on the spot market to fill a need when temperatures are very high or very low.
Governor Phil Scott praised the project in a video comment shared at the event. “With ‘out of the box’ thinking, common sense and collaboration, we can address tough issues like climate change and do our part to reduce carbon emissions without hurting the economy. I know many think clean energy must be more expensive, but the work done today shows not only can we reduce carbon emissions, but if we are strategic, we can also save money in the process,” Gov. Scott said.
The statehouse battery project is expected to save Vermont taxpayers $44,000 and GMP customers an additional $18,000 over ten years while also supplying clean backup power. The batteries are projected to reduce carbon emissions by 6,388 pounds per year, the equivalent of not using 326 gallons of gasoline.
“BGS is excited to be a part of this ambitious effort,” said Acting Commissioner Jennifer M.V. Fitch, P.E. “We hope that this project will become a model for energy management strategies and backup power systems in public buildings, and for the public-private partnerships that make them work.”
The batteries are part of GMP’s first in the country Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for Business program(link is external) – which provides financial incentives to businesses that install batteries and share some of that back up energy. GMP uses that stored power during energy peaks, when power is costliest and dirtiest. This reduces costs for all GMP customers and also covers the cost of the incentives in the BYOD for Business program.
“It is great to see the results of this collaboration to reduce carbon emissions. Vermont is leading the way and this project shows how we can all make a difference,” said Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield, whose committee was key in facilitating this project.
The Samsung Mega E2 batteries were installed in the basement of the statehouse where a failing fossil fueled generator from the 1960’s once was. The 250 kWh of battery power came online this fall, and now backs up more critical systems for the historic building, including the elevator. Northern Reliability procured and built the battery system for the state.
“It’s incredibly impressive that leadership in our State Government is forward-thinking enough to replace their fossil fuel redundancy with an Energy Storage System. Its ability to fulfill their backup needs and be used by GMP for peak avoidance is just one of many ways that Governor Scott and our state leaders are doing their part not only to reduce our carbon footprint but also to work with our utilities to reduce the cost of power. Northern Reliability is proud to have been a part of such a great project,” said Jay Bellows, CEO of Northern Reliability.
“Dynapower is grateful for the opportunity to support such a groundbreaking energy storage project shepherded by Northern Reliability, Green Mountain Power, and the state of Vermont. This is a perfect example of world class Vermont organizations coming together to help tackle climate issues here at home and lead the nation. Energy storage presents an incredible opportunity for Vermont to leverage its in state technical talent to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and grow jobs here in Vermont — a win, win for state,” said Adam Knudsen, CEO of Dynapower in South Burlington, Vermont, which supplied the inverter for the project.
Virtual Peaker software is being used to connect the battery to GMP for energy sharing. “Virtual Peaker’s cloud-based flexible software helps to create an ecosystem of distributed energy resources that deliver maximum value to Vermonters from the State House battery,” said William (Bill) Burke, founder and CEO of Virtual Peaker. “Since 2016, when GMP named Virtual Peaker one of just five cutting-edge energy companies to win its first-ever Inspire Space Contest, we’ve had the privilege of collaborating with GMP to develop technology and clean energy solutions, and we are so pleased to join these Vermont companies and be part of this exciting project.”
Energy storage is an important way to provide resiliency, manage the grid cost effectively, and the flexibility of batteries means the potential for even more benefits for customers in the future.
“At GMP we are about working together to deliver solutions and this project is a great example of what can be done. It will save all Vermonters, including GMP customers money while adding to GMP’s network of stored energy. That network reduced more than $3 million in costs for customers last year. We can do this with more Vermont businesses to help them save,” said GMP’s McClure.
State Curator, David Schultz noted that the energy profile of the State House has been in a constant state of evolution, “The building itself dates to the mid-19th century, when its chandeliers were illuminated with coal-fired gas. Electricity was finally installed in 1898, and now, over 120 years later, there is an unprecedented reliance on power and technology to do the people’s business.”