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GMP, with key partners, expands Rutland goals

"We will no longer be just a service provider - we want to be a solution provider, and Rutland will help us make that transition," said Powell.

14-part plan aims to make Rutland an energy model for the nation and will support Rutland VISION initiative
RUTLAND - Expanding its commitment to make Rutland the Solar Capital of New England, Green Mountain Power announced, Tuesday, Aug. 20, a broad new plan to help the city effect a deep and sustainable revitalization.
"Working with key Rutland partners, we will make Rutland an example for other communities throughout the United States by creating a citywide lab focused on rapid deployment of renewable technologies, smart grid capabilities, grid resiliency and electrical efficiency that will foster and support a meaningful socio-economic turnaround," GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. "Rutland will become the regional leader in reliance on and development of these technologies and programs, a key component of a statewide electric vehicle program, and will demonstrate the economic value of renewable energy to the grid.
"In our vision, Rutland will become a significant draw for people to live and work and be involved. And we're moving toward that goal by completely rethinking how we can give customers what they want or need, and the relationship between the company and the community. We will no longer be just a service provider - we want to be a solution provider, and Rutland will help us make that transition."
Last year, GMP announced plans to make Rutland the solar capital of New England, with enough solar capacity, 6.25 megawatts by 2017, to make it the highest per-capita reliance of any city in the region. Today, Powell dramatically expanded that goal, raising the goal to 10 megawatts by the end of 2015.
"We have made substantial progress on our initial goal much faster than we planned, and hope to reach it in 2014, so we have set our sights much higher," Powell said. "The result will be more than 50 percent of additional solar development than initially expected, two years faster than we planned."
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders called GMP's solar progress "extraordinary."
"At a time when it is clear that global warming poses the greatest threat the planet has ever faced, I am very pleased that Green Mountain Power is making great strides in its effort to make Rutland, Vermont the solar capital of New England," Senator Sanders said. "Their success in Rutland, working with local community partners, to dramatically expand solar energy in the city is extraordinary. I applaud the outstanding work being done here, which shows the rest of the country that we can transform our energy system from foreign oil to sustainable energy."
"Green Mountain Power is using cutting edge renewable energy technology to expand its commitment to green power, benefit its customers, and continue the economic revitalization of Rutland," Governor Peter Shumlin said. "This is exciting news that's good for our economy and our environment."
Powell and Steve Costello, vice president for generation and energy innovation, laid out the broad new plan to a gathering of local leaders and community members at the Paramount Theatre this past Tuesday. A key to the 14-part plan is the use of pilot programs centered in Rutland to help the company develop new customer offerings, like the heat pump program announced earlier this month, and significant new economic development efforts.
"Just as the community returned this spectacular building to its rightful place as the cornerstone of downtown, this plan will bolster the ongoing rebirth of Rutland," Costello said. "That rebirth began here with the Paramount's restoration, so it is fitting that we announce our next steps here as well."
The 14-point plan
•Dramatically expand its efforts to build or prompt the construction of solar energy in the city, which can reduce customer costs, create tax revenues for the city, help meet state energy goals, and inspire existing and new solar developers to invest in Rutland.
•Install 40 solar collectors and "smart" streetlight monitors on existing utility poles in collaboration with the city.
•Develop a Rutland-based grid resiliency pilot to determine the feasibility and benefits of significant system hardening to prevent outages.
•Use targeted investments in local infrastructure to defer the need for transmission upgrades.
•Explore underground distribution lines or designing new distribution projects with aesthetics in mind in the city core.
•Implement an on-bill financing pilot in Rutland for efficiency services, thermal and/or small-scale renewable projects, all on the GMP bill.
•Implement an innovative ice-based energy storage pilot project to determine the feasibility of shifting summer cooling from peak to off-peak hours.
•Significantly expand GMP Cow Power to smaller farms and develop the capability to include local food waste generation.
•Install new quick-charge technology for electric vehicles that can allow EV owners to fully charge a vehicle in 20 minutes. Plans include installing other additional vehicle chargers in downtown Rutland in 2013-2014, with more to follow.
•Provide logistical and intellectual capital for Rutland's ongoing VISION campaign to address crime, mental health, illegal drug use, quality-of-life and related issues.
•Provide one year of work space in GMP's new Energy Innovation Center or other Rutland space (desk, phone, copier, support) to a new Rutland small business, with the winner chosen via a contest.
•Develop an "Energy Park" to demonstrate different types of small renewable technologies, including micro wind and various solar styles, in Rutland.
•Create an "Energy Trail" through the city, including renewable site locations along the way.
•Collaborate with our partners to develop a regional recruitment campaign to draw new workers and families to Rutland to ensure an adequate supply of highly skilled workers, reinvigorate the housing market and neighborhoods, and highlight low-cost housing, quality-of-life and innovation themes.
Costello said planning for many of the projects and pilots is well under way, while others are in their infancy. "Even as we have been busy with our initial solar goals, working on the EIC construction and planning and rolling out the heat pump pilot, we have been thinking every day about innovative ways to benefit our customers, Rutland and the entire state," he said.
Mayor Christopher Louras said GMP had gone way beyond what it promised Rutland upon the merger with Central Vermont Public Service last year.
"The company has demonstrated a willingness to explore new ideas, take chances and consider options most utilities would never contemplate, and today's announcement is filled with such ideas," Louras said
"GMP's efforts dovetail perfectly with Project VISION, the city's campaign to change behaviors by changing the environment," Police Chief James Baker said. "GMP, through its investment in the city and its support of community-building efforts across Rutland, has begun to change the way people think about and talk about their city, and that is critical to the city's future. Today's commitments represent a significant and important progression of GMP's efforts, which frankly go way beyond anything we could have hoped for when the merger was announced."