Local News

GMP hosts national solar test center

RUTLAND—Green Mountain Power’s efforts to capture energy from the sun could get a boost thanks to a state-of-the-art research station installed at the Green Mountain Power Renewable Education Center in Rutland Town.

The mobile station is designed to provide among the most accurate solar measuring systems in the world, and is one of just two in the United States. The other is in Alamosa, Colo.

GMP was selected to host the facility in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), IBM, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others, due to its commitment to solar energy and industry-leading solar programs, its willingness to collaborate with multiple parties and its strong support for solar development.

“It’s a tremendous honor to host this project and continue to expand our understanding of the role solar energy can play in Vermont and around the world,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. “This project will help the entire industry by helping improve solar forecasting and reducing already-falling solar costs. This initiative is part of our mission to deliver the clean, cost-effective, and reliable power customers tell us they want.”

The solar measurement system, owned by NOAA, was installed at no cost to GMP customers as part of a DOE SunShot project focused on solar forecasting. Other partners include ISO-New England, which operates the regional transmission grid and energy market; ISO-California; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); IBM; and Tucson Electric. NREL, located in Golden, Colo., is the nation’s leading efficiency and renewable energy research and development lab.

“This project is a direct outgrowth of our focus at the Energy Innovation Center in Rutland and our goal to make Rutland the solar capital of New England,” GMP Vice President Steve Costello said. “In two years, GMP has become known across the industry as one of a handful of electric companies pushing boundaries to create the most efficient and cleanest energy future possible.”

The new system will send real-time data to NOAA, IBM and the World Radiation Center in Davos, Switzerland. The data collected in Rutland will be used along with data from other sites in an effort to develop a solar forecasting tool that can be used to maximize the use of solar production, remove system barriers to solar generation, and minimize costs.

Kathleen Lantz, research scientist at NOAA, said the project is part of one of NOAA’s key goals of helping create an informed society that anticipates and responds to climate and its impacts.

“Our mission includes research and education, and projects like this can help tie them together,” Lantz said. “We are pleased to be able to work with Green Mountain Power, which has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to working with a diverse group of industry and agency partners working on DOE’s SunShot initiative to help make solar cost-competitive with other forms of electricity while reducing impacts on our climate.”

Green Mountain Power serves approximately 265,000 residential and business customers in Vermont. GMP recognizes that the role of electric utilities is changing and is focused on a new way of doing business to meet the needs of customers with integrated services, while continuing to generate clean, cost-effective and reliable power in Vermont. In 2014, Vote Solar named GMP a Solar Champion. More information can be found at www.greenmountainpower.com.

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