Green Mountain Power (GMP) made an announcement last week that
will bring Rutland one step closer to its goal of becoming the
solar energy capital of New England. Employees from the utility
company joined local officials, members of the press and community
representatives to hear about a new partnership with the company
NRG, based in New Jersey, is the country's largest solar
developer and they specialize in residential solar solutions. The
company recently signed an agreement with GMP that will allow them
to pilot a central lease solar program in Rutland. This will
include two 150 watt solar arrays in the city and a downtown office
Formerly, consumers who opted for solar energy had to buy the
equipment outright or lease the equipment often facing large
upfront costs and lengthy contracts. Many potential customers in
Rutland were unable to install residential solar because of costs,
inadequate roofing, shading issues, or the fact that they don't own
their own home.
The Vermont Community Solar Program aims to remove all these
obstacles. There are no upfront costs or solar panels on your roof;
they plan to offer flexible contracts and shorter commitments.
Anyone can sign up for this effort to reduce the cost of
electricity while helping grow alternative energy production. It
will work similarly to a share in a farm or Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA) membership.
"Through this partnership, customers who have no space for solar
or can't afford to build it themselves will be able to rely on
solar energy and support its construction through a low-cost lease
program," said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell at the press
conference. "Many participants are likely to pay less for solar
energy than they are paying today on their electric bills," she
Scott Fisher, director of alternative energy at NRG echoed the
benefits of the program, saying, "We see this as a test case for
new ways to bring the benefits of solar to more people."
The project will begin with 50 Rutland residents in the solar
community, NRG will then build its first solar farm in the city and
the dividends from that farm will be divided among the members.
Rutland mayor Chris Louras, who has been a supporter of GMP's
involvement in Rutland, said he is pleased by the recent
developments. "We are seeing intellectual capital invested in
Rutland, through the Energy Innovation Center, and this is simply
the next step in many. The city is proud of both of these companies
and happy to be a partner."