Around the country, a new model is arising to provide clean, reliable, locally generated and locally managed energy: solar power combined with energy storage in the form of batteries. In addition to their other benefits, these hybrid solar + storage systems can provide “resilient power” to protect communities from power outages in increasingly severe weather events. The newest and most interesting example of this technology is the Stafford Hills Solar + Storage Microgrid Project in Rutland, Vermont. The project will be one of the first exclusively solar-powered microgrids in the US and puts Vermont in the forefront of the new movement toward microgrids, energy storage, and grid modernization.  It is supported by joint grants from the Vermont Department of Public Service and U.S. Department of Energy, through Clean Energy States Alliance’s Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP).

Project developer Green Mountain Power (GMP), a utility based in Rutland, has plans to turn the small city of 16,000 into the “Solar Capital of New England.” The Stafford Hills Project is GMP’s eighth and largest solar project in Rutland. It will provide clean, distributed generation and resilient power to an economically challenged, urban community that is targeted for revitalization and that suffers frequent power outages due to storms. Employing nearly 8,000 solar panels and 4 MW of battery storage, the project will be the first solar-powered microgrid to provide back-up power to a public emergency shelter, as well as the first microgrid developed on a brownfield.

Rutland was hit hard by Hurricane Irene, which swept across the east coast in 2011. Massive flooding in Vermont led to six deaths, left 117,000 people without power, and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. With the Stafford Hill Project, Vermont takes a giant step toward addressing the need for economic revitalization, emission reductions, and resilient power solutions that will help communities weather the next big storm.

Solar + storage and microgrid technologies are poised to revolutionize the electric grid, bringing clean, resilient, locally generated power to communities all over the world. These systems strengthen electric grids and can keep critical facilities, such as emergency shelters, firehouses and fueling stations, operating when the grid goes down. These new resilient power technologies are something all communities should consider installing to protect themselves from power outages in severe weather events.

More information about the Stafford Hill Solar + Storage Microgrid Project is available on the project website, and in a press release by Clean Energy Group and the Clean Energy States Alliance.

CESA’s Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) project with Sandia National Laboratory was instrumental in creating this unique federal-state-utility-NGO partnership to include solar energy storage in this groundbreaking project. Visit the ESTAP project webpage at: http://www.cesa.org/projects/energy-storage-technology-advancement-partnership/.