RUTLAND — Homeowners who are customers of Green Mountain Power can apply to be part of a program that includes solar panels from Tesla, two Powerwall batteries and an option to buy an electric car, at what GMP officials say is a low and fixed cost.
Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power, said the package is a “massive game-changer” for the power industry.
According to Powell, the program, which will be available at first to only 1,000 GMP customers, is the first of its kind in the United States and will “absolutely bundle energy transformation in a way that’s affordable.”
“I think this is so important, not just for Vermont but for the industry, as we think about tackling climate change and the costs of climate change by making the Vermont grid more resilient and making homes, businesses and communities more resilient. Customers who move to packages like these, in all likelihood, unless it’s a massive outage that lasts for well over a week, shouldn’t experience any kind of power disruption,” she said.
The goal is to ease the transition from standard power transmission to one that will include renewable energy and other benefits.
A customer who joins the program will get a solar array and two power storage batteries and a fixed price for an extended period for the payments on the equipment and the power usage. For 500 of those customers, the array and the batteries will be supplied by Tesla, which makes the Powerwall batteries some GMP customers have already gotten.
The batteries store energy that can be used if there is an interruption in traditional service. They can also be used to supply power at times of high use. For instance, on a hot day when customers will be expected to use air conditioners, power use will surge. But GMP can draw power that’s stored in the batteries, rather than get the power from another source, which lowers the cost of power for all GMP customers and not just those with the batteries.
GMP is also keeping another 500 slots open in the program for Vermont companies that can provide solar equipment, paired with power storage batteries from one of the companies that make them.
Together, that means 1,000 customers can make the switch to using solar power without having to order solar equipment from one company and storage batteries from a second company.
The bundle would combine those needs, as well as provide a guarantee for the utility rate and offer an option to include an electric vehicle.
Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the Washington, D.C.-based association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, said in a statement that GMP is a “leader in partnering with technology companies to develop innovative products and solutions.”
“In this case, Green Mountain Power developed a program that enables customers to install clean energy plus storage in a way that ensures costs remain predictable and affordable. We know that customers want clean energy, and this program gives them the confidence that they need to participate,” Kuhn said.
GMP took a step in this direction last year with a program that allowed customers to store energy with Tesla Powerwall batteries.
Matt Levandowski, of Pittsford, said he had been very pleased with the Powerwall battery at his home.
“It was a pretty easy process actually. The wait time to get a Powerwall, because I was on a pilot program, took a little bit, probably about eight months, I would guess, waiting for the product to be built, but installation was easy,” he said.
Levandowski said he wanted “peace of mind” to know that his power would continue uninterrupted without having to buy and install a back-up generator.
“It’s actually been seamless. I had a handful of instances where it’s been in use. I really wouldn’t even have known had I not had the app on my phone,” he said.
While GMP officials believe the bundle they’re offering is the first of its kind, Powell said utilities in other states had been paying attention. She said she hoped what GMP was doing could be replicated in other states as a way to help people easily make the switch to renewable energy sources.
More information about the program is available on the GMP website at greenmountainpower.com/product/gmp-energy-bundle