A new partnership between the Stet of Vermont, Green Mountain Power, UVM, and a National Laboratory will put Vermont in the forefront of Smart Grid technology.
Green Mountain Power is in the beginning process of converting power meters to digital, so-called smart meters. The goal is to create a smart grid which will give consumers more control over the energy they use, help conserve power and better pinpoint outages.
A neighborhood in Colchester is a test site for GMP -- they are the first to get smart meters and it is hoped the infrastructure will be in place by April of 2013. But that is just one small part of the smart grid, and on Monday the state took a big step toward becoming a national leader in smart grid technology, thanks to a new 15-million dollar research center planned for the University of Vermont.
"We are announcing today a center for energy transformation and innovation right here in Vermont. What we are looking at is a commitment of up to 15-million dollars in the next three years which I hope and expect will be the beginning of a long term presence between Sandia, UVM, utilities in the State of Vermont and businesses in the State of Vermont," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I- Vt.)
Sandia National Laboratory is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and began talks with the state two years ago about a collaboration. The new center will focus on new energy technologies and how to connect renewable energy projects to the national electrical grid, making Vermont the example for the country.
"In this partnership with Sandia, with the University of Vermont, with our utilities -- Green Mountain Power and others, we have an extraordinary opportunity to show the rest of the nation how to use smart grid, how to use energy efficiency to save money for businesses and for consumers," said Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-Vt.).
Sandia was attracted to the project, in part, because of Vermont's small size. Sandia Vice President Rick Stulen said it's a chance to actually accomplish some important goals. "It also means that we have to be sure we have anticipated any cyber challenges that may be opened up, or opportunities vulnerabilities that may be opened up as we move forward to this new future. Sandia is very much in the forefront of cyber research, so we will be bringing, sharing best practices with these utilities and various stakeholders," he said.
Senator Sanders said the new Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation will attract new green businesses to the state. "If Vermont can become a leader in the nation in moving forward into energy efficiency and sustainable energy, it attracts a lot of business people who will be working with us in developing that new technology," he said.
The Center will be located at the University of Vermont, but there are plans for hubs in communities throughout the state.