Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Michael Boots, center, acting chairman of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, toured Vermont on Thursday with Gov. Peter Shumlin, right. While in Rutland he visited the Green Mountain Power Energy Innovation Center as a guest of GMP President Mary Powell, left.
RUTLAND — Green Mountain Power is hoping it can put solar power away for a rainy day.
The utility announced Thursday it would use a planned solar farm at the former Rutland city landfill to test battery technology that would allow it to store power generated at peak times and release it into the grid as needed.
Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president of generation and energy innovation, said the technology had the potential to compensate for the uneven production pattern frequently cited as a major drawback for solar and wind power.
“This is really new stuff,” Costello said. “No one is doing this on big scales.”
Costello said the utility will also install the capability to isolate the circuit between the landfill project — dubbed Stafford Hill by the company — and Rutland High School.
“What we’re trying to demonstrate is the ability to keep the circuit on even if the power is out,” he said.
The announcement came during a news conference at GMP’s Energy Innovation Center attended by Gov. Peter Shumlin and Michael Boots, acting chairman of the White House Council of Environmental Quality, who were touring the state as part of a program on disaster preparedness and recovery.
Shumlin touted the state’s effort to combat climate change by converting to an energy portfolio of 90 percent renewable sources by 2050 and said Green Mountain Power was a key partner in that effort.
“We have challenges ahead, and this innovation center is dedicated to making sure we get that right,” he said. “Without the leadership of the folks here, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Boots said the Obama administration is pursuing three avenues on climate change — reducing carbon pollution, working with communities around the country to prepare for the effects, and moving the economy toward cleaner energy.
“It’s great to have a facility like this that had been so focused on helping us with that first part of the process,” he said.
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