Solaricity

I am slowly converting to Green Mountain Power’s view of its bid to put its solar/renewable operations in Rutland as a possible net positive for the city. OK, GMP says it’s more than a possible positive.

A lot hinges on the company’s definition of a “solar city,” but in broad strokes, they’re defining it as more solar per capita than any other community in the state. As Clarendon is discussing a 2.2 MW solar farm, it would generate about 783 kW per each of its 2,811 residents (782.63963 for you math geeks following along at home). Multiplied by about 16,500 population in Rutland and that’s a whopping 12.9 MW of electrical production, or enough to get Doc Brown’s attention.

This is where is gets interesting; exciting even. One possibility is to build a solar farm about 250 times the size of the demonstration unit CVPS put up on Route 4 in Rutland Town. Hard to see where that would go after the landfill and maybe the railyard (assuming you moved the railyard someplace else).

Another is to build a combination of a solar array and install another chunk on buildings in the city. There are existing national programs to create incentives to do this kind of work GMP could tap into. Starting with the schools, the hospital, City Hall, etc., would spread the benefit to all taxpayers.

If even half of the output went to property owners in the city, it would cut the city’s collective heating bill by a significant percentage. (An average Vermont home uses 576 kWh/month, so we’re talking about generating about 10 percent of the city’s total electricity use right here.)

Taking a big chunk of Rutland’s civic infrastructure off of the grid would a) be a nice civic gesture from GMP/CVPS; b) keep a portion of those tax dollars now going to oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia and Calgary in Rutland; c) be a national pilot project for GMP to show off; and d) reduce the need to upgrade the power infrastructure into the county, already identified as a need in the not-too-distant future if we don’t reduce local demand.

Both Gov. Peter Shumlin and Patricia Moulton Powden, the commissioner of labor for his administration, have pledged that the Public Service Board will hold GMP to its promise if the deal to buy CVPS is finalized.

The city and GMP are in super-secret talks right now about some sort of deal. It will be interesting to see how it comes out.

Oh, and solaricity? Think The Police

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