Construction starts on Vermont solar/battery project

Green Mountain Power began construction Aug. 12 on an innovative new solar project to improve resiliency and safety in communities, by generating clean energy that can be stored and used to power an emergency shelter at Rutland High School in Vermont during a storm.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the 2-MW Stafford Hill Solar Farm is the first project to establish a micro-grid powered solely by solar and battery back-up, with no other fuel source. The $10m project is due for completion in mid December.

Stafford Hill includes 7,700 solar panels that can generate 2 MW. It also includes 4 MW of battery storage to store solar generation, which will provide many benefits, including allowing the disconnection of an entire circuit from the grid in an emergency and providing critical power for an emergency shelter at the high school, the company said.

“Stafford Hill is a major milestone in creating more resilient and strong communities throughout Vermont,” said Green Mountain Power President and CEO Mary Powell. “As part of our commitment to provide reliable, clean and cost-effective power to customers, GMP recognizes how important it is to power critical infrastructure such as schools and shelters in an emergency. Stafford Hill is an important part of that effort, as we will use what we learn here in Rutland to improve how we serve all customers.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin attended the groundbreaking on the new solar project as part of his Summer Solar tour, and praised GMP for leading with new energy initiatives like Stafford Hill. Shumlin pointed to the clear need to provide new energy solutions to keep the lights on and create self-sustaining micro-grids that can continue to provide power during storms and when there are widespread outages.

“With this project, Vermont remains on the cutting edge of the renewable energy front,” Shumlin said. “The clean energy industry creates jobs and is good for the environment. Storing renewable power has always been a challenge, and I’m proud that we’re here today to take that next step forward.”

The Stafford Hill Solar Farm is sited at the closed Rutland City landfill. Dynapower of South Burlington designed special equipment for the project and the Clean Energy States Alliance helped secure funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Green Mountain Power generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in the state of Vermont. The company, which was named 2014 Solar Champion by Vote Solar, serves more than 250,000 customers.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.