Energy Storage in Vermont, ISO-NE, and the Rutland Energy City of the Future

Many states and cities have been pushing forward with new energy policies to accommodate higher amounts of distributed generation and are making use of energy storage. We look at Vermont, which was one of four states cited by the DOEs Energy Storage Program Manager, Dr. Imre Gyuk, in his presentation on US energy storage this May.

Rutland, Vermont. Photo: Shawn Pemrick

Rutland, Vermont. Photo: Shawn Pemrick

Green Mountain Power (GMP), the utility that covers most of Vermont, has been operating most of its pilot programs in the town of Rutland, home of the Rutland Energy City of the Future. The project is experimenting with energy storage and other distributed resources, being among the first markets to introduce a streamlined connection policy. It piloted Ice Energy air conditioning units to test their ability to achieve peak shaving. In 2014, GMP quadrupled the amount of net metered resources it would allow on its grid.

The utility and city made headlines again recently when announcing their intention to purchase and incorporate a large number of Tesla Powerwalls to reduce peak demand and provide savings to customers. This will also offer much greater energy independence to some customers, making it an interesting move by the utility. The delivery of the Powerwall units to customers’ homes will begin in October. GMP will partner with users in offering product incentives and on-bill financing. This will ensure that the value brought to the grid by the customers’ use of the Powerwalls is accurately reflected in their monthly bills.

The other major project in the city is the Stafford Hill Solar Farm, composed of a 2.5MW solar PV installation and a 4 MW/4.4 MWh battery energy storage system (2 MW/2 MWh Li-ion battery + 2 MW/2.4 MWh lead-acid battery). This project is managed by the Clean Energy States Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories, and involves the State of Vermont, US DOE Office of Electricity, and Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAR).  The energy storage component of the project cost $4M. The project is meant to provide backup power to one of the first microgrids to be powered solely by solar and battery power without other fuel sources.

The Rutland Energy City of the Future initiative is in part of an economic move to help boost employment and make use of existing resources after an electric office left town, consolidating with another office in another location.   

Frequency regulation in New England’s market, ISO-NE, has been the slowest and most conservative in terms of transitioning to pay-for-performance frequency regulation structures.  When FERC ordered the ISOs to submit proposals for such market structures, ISO-NE’s was rejected twice, and their implementation date was pushed back to March 2015 while the other ISO began implementation in 2012-2014. Currently there are three projects totaling 975 kW of fast frequency regulation in ISO-NE: two heat thermal pilot projects by VCharge, and Beacon Power’s first flywheel demonstration plant. 

As new policies and business models emerge from the ISO-NE market, from Green Mountain Power, and the Rutland Energy City of the Future, CNESA will continue monitoring and reporting.