Regulators approve GMP request to expand home energy storage program

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GMP’s to Expand Customer Access to Cost-Effective Home Energy Storage Through Popular Powerwall and BYOD Battery Programs

  • Vermont Public Utility Commission lifts cap on customer enrollments
  • Customers in GMP’s home battery programs stay powered up during severe weather
  • Expanded enrollment is an urgent need as Vermont experiences increasing extreme storms due to climate change
  • Neighbors helping neighbors: Programs’ unique energy sharing cuts costs for all GMP customers 
  • Decision addresses growing waitlist to enroll that currently extends to 2026

 

Vermont Business Magazine Green Mountain Power (GMP) customers will have greater access to seamless, cost-effective home battery backup power following an order by the Vermont Public Utility Commission late Thursday. In April, after the third devastating storm in less than twelve months, GMP filed a request to lift the enrollment caps on its popular Powerwall and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) home battery programs. Removing the cap allows more customers access to the program as Vermont sees increasingly severe weather due to climate change. The Commission agreed, citing growing customer demand for home batteries, the likelihood of more extreme weather in the future, and that the home battery programs benefit all GMP customers.

“Accelerating storm resiliency is our path forward, especially after what Vermonters have gone through this year. We’re pleased we can expand access allowing more customers to enroll in these programs which have a proven track record of keeping customers powered up through extremely tough conditions,” said Mari McClure, GMP president and CEO. “This is just one aspect of the multi-layered resiliency work we have been doing across our system since launching our Climate Plan three years ago building out initiatives to help Vermont communities stay connected.”

Since 2020, both the Powerwall and BYOD programs had been capped at 500 customers, or 5MW of energy storage, per program, per year. The waitlist for the Powerwall program is now 1,200 customers long, and the program is full into 2026. About 300 customers joined the waitlist this summer, following historic flooding in the state.

Candace Nattie, a GMP customer from Norwich, cheered the regulators’ decision. She joined the waitlist for the Powerwall program after heavy, wet snow tore down trees and poles across Vermont in December 2022. She had a few days without power while her neighbors, already in the Powerwall program, stayed powered up.

“This is a relief, to have the ability to have power and stay at home safely in severe weather, and the severe storms keep happening here and around the world. It is a real sense of security and comfort to have power, water, and heat,” Nattie said.

In the Powerwall program, customers lease two Tesla Powerwall batteries from GMP for $55 per month. Customers choose the certified installer they prefer. The lease is a significant savings over purchasing the batteries on your own because customers in the program also agree to share stored energy with GMP during peak energy use times, like heatwaves. During times of peak demand, energy can be expensive and carbon intensive. By sharing energy during these peak times and putting it back on the grid, it reduces costs and carbon emissions for all GMP customers. 

In the BYOD program, customers buy a battery of their choosing from a local installer, and they can receive an incentive up to $10,500 from GMP depending on how much stored energy they agree to share during peaks.

To date, about 2,900 GMP customers have more than 4,800 batteries in their homes. During energy peaks, GMP networks that stored energy together, along with utility scale batteries and devices like car chargers, into a virtual power plant of about 50MW of stored energy. Combined, this growing stored energy network has saved GMP customers up to $3 million a year for the last few years.

With the cap lifted, customers can now continue to sign up for GMP’s home energy storage programs online, and the timing for installations will depend on scheduling with the installer a customer selects.

Expanding access to home batteries is just one part of the resiliency work GMP has been doing, and continues to accelerate, across Vermont. The company is undergrounding lines and using storm-hardening line construction techniques to keep communities powered up by preventing outages before they happen. GMP is also using CDC vulnerability and other data to partner with communities on Resiliency Zones to keep them connected with distribution circuit microgrids and renewable power generation.

GMP first offered home batteries for backup power through pilot programs in 2015, becoming the first utility in the U.S. to partner with Tesla. GMP was the first utility in the country to earn regulatory approval to offer fully tariffed home energy programs in 2020, after regulators decided the Powerwall and BYOD pilot programs provided reliable, seamless backup power for participating customers while also reducing costs for all GMP customers through energy sharing.

Customers who are interested in signing up for the program can visit the GMP website.

About Green Mountain Power

Green Mountain Power serves more than 270,000 residential and business customers in Vermont with electricity that’s 100% carbon free and 78% renewable on an annual basis, and GMP is partnering with customers to improve lives and transform communities. GMP is providing solutions to cut carbon and is delivering electricity that is clean, affordable, and always on. GMP is the first utility in the world to get a B Corp certification, meeting rigorous social, environmental, accountability and transparency standards and committing to use business as a force for good. In 2022, GMP was named to TIME’s list of the 100 Most Influential Companies. Fast Company named GMP one of the top five Most Innovative Companies in North America in 2022. GMP also earned a spot on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies in the World list in the energy sector four years in a row, and in 2023 and 2021 the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) honored GMP as a nationwide leader in energy transformation. 

Source: 8.18.2023. COLCHESTER, Vt. – Green Mountain Power