Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Tesla helps Green Mountain improve energy delivery

Steve Rogerson
May 7, 2019

Vermont utility Green Mountain Power (GMP) is using the Tesla Powerwall to improve energy delivery and provide increased resiliency during outages, while also adding convenience and helping users cut carbon.
The Resilient Home programme uses a patent-pending approach to energy delivery, so consumers can use a battery system for reliability and to measure their energy usage. GMP believes users can can say goodbye to relying on a traditional meter to measure power use, and say hello to the comfort and convenience that home battery backup power brings.
Those enrolled in the programme can either get two Tesla Powerwall batteries for $30 a month or can choose to work with a Powerwall retailer in Vermont and get a battery system under GMP’s Bring Your Own Device programme. The batteries provide whole-home backup power, switching on seamlessly during outages like a generator, but without the fossil fuel.
GMP’s patent-pending approach also means the batteries can act as the meter for the home, giving dual benefits, and leapfrogging the decades-old utility practice of using a traditional, single-purpose meter to count up power use.
“As climate change impacts accelerate, we all must act and continue to innovate dramatic shifts in energy delivery that help customers, and GMP, to drive down carbon emissions,” said Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power. “We have a vision of a battery system in every single home. Our Resilient Home pilot programme does this by breaking the old utility mould, transforming the way energy is delivered to customers, increasing their comfort and convenience in the face of increasing severity and frequency of storms in Vermont due to climate change.”
Those joining the pilot programme can get an extra option on top of the comfort of backup power and the convenience of the programme’s dual-benefit batteries acting as the meter – subscription pricing for power. Those in the programme can choose a flat monthly price for power, and lock it in for a year.
“Subscription pricing is an exciting option for customers, that offers them an extra level of convenience and predictability,” said GMP chief innovation officer Josh Castonguay. “And from an innovation perspective, the most amazing part of this shift to battery-as-meter is that storage devices, like the Powerwall, have already proven incredibly useful in allowing us to manage the entire grid more effectively when you’re considering carbon and cost.”
Last summer, GMP’s network of stored energy saved users more than $500,000 in a single day when the company used that shared power to drive down demand on the grid during the annual New England peak.
Those joining Resilient Home agree to share stored energy with GMP on several peak demand days each year. This programme will also accelerate the Vermont competitive technology marketplace by ensuring that users are adoption ready for solar and smart devices as well as allowing space for other storage providers to step in and work with GMP to use their devices to work in this new environment.
“It is great to see how much progress is being made by EEI’s member companies to innovate and transform to deliver a clean energy future for customers,” said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). “Green Mountain Power is part of revolutionising the business, and is proving that out-of-the-box thinking is not only critical for achieving clean energy goals, but also possible. This innovation is a huge jump forward into the resilient, distributed energy grid we need as we move to provide more renewable energy for customers, and it also shows that electric companies are a key part.”
Space in GMP’s Resilient Home pilot programme is limited. GMP can enrol 250 users on a first come, first served basis and, based on regular calls and emails from customers, those spots are expected to fill very quickly. But, other Vermont renewable energy companies also have 250 spots. Users can buy two Powerwalls through them, and join Resilient Home by enrolling in GMP’s Bring Your Own Device programme, which offers customers financial incentives to help with their battery purchases.
“Partnering with customers on innovations like this is how we can help each other take on climate change and win; we have no time to lose,” said Powell, who recently announced a commitment to get GMP’s power supply to 100% renewable by 2030.
GMP serves approximately 265,000 residential and business customers in Vermont.