Green Mountain Power says there are a lot of Vermonters who’d like to use solar power. But many are unable or unwilling to install the necessary equipment on their homes.
GMP officials say now, thanks to a new partnership with the nation’s largest solar developer, they’ll be able to offer a new way for customers to take advantage of solar power without installing the hardware.
According to solar industry experts, 80 percent of homeowners can’t or won’t put solar panels on their rooftops. Either their roof’s bad, they’ve got too much shade, or their spouse doesn’t like how solar panels look.
Jeff Wolfe is a consultant with the new Green Mountain Power project. He says community based solar arrays can be built and customers can tap into them. And he says that means everyone who wants solar power can now have it.
"So there’s a tremendous number of people who want solar, who love the idea of clean energy, but can’t practice it," he said. "This program allows you to get solar, use solar and not have it on your roof top.”
To offer this new plan, Green Mountain Power is partnering with NRG Residential Solar, the nation’s largest solar developer. The company is not to be confused with NRG Systems, a different Hinesburg company that makes products that measure wind.
NRG Residential’s Scott Fisher says the company plans to develop two 150-kilowatt solar parks in Rutland - the first to be completed this summer. Under the new program, up to 100 GMP customers in Rutland and Rutland Town will be able to sign up for multi-year leases on the two sites, paying lower electricity costs than they are now.
NRG, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in New Jersey, has already opened an office in Rutland and has hired one employee to oversee its new solar operations in the city.
“Right now we’re looking at it as a pilot project," Fisher said. "We want to push the envelope on innovation. I think our motivation is we would be able to replicate this in potentially other states - a place like Texas or California where we do have significant business. We look at Vermont as an ideal place to pilot a project like this.”
Officials with Green Mountain Power say this effort is another step toward making Rutland not only the solar capital of New England - but also a critical laboratory where they can explore new ways to bring sustainable power to their customers.