Energy Storage

Utility storage incentive changes include upfront payment

Vermont utility Green Mountain Power, working with Renewable Energy Vermont, an association of Vermont based renewable energy companies, has enhanced its program that provides incentives for customers with energy storage devices.

The main change was implemented in response to customer demand for an upfront payment instead of an electric bill credit, GMP spokeswoman Kristen Kelly said.

Now, customers can receive an upfront payment of $850 per kW for enrolling their energy storage device in the utility’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. The revised program now also allows customers to enroll their electric vehicle chargers in the program, but at a lower rate than what is available for other types of storage devices.

Customers with residential EV charging stations can receive a $10 per month credit on their bills. The utility is also providing an extra incentive in areas where storage is most needed to help meet peak demand. In those areas, GMP if offering an extra $150 per kW.

Green Mountain Power says its BYOD program offers the largest upfront utility incentive in the country for residential batteries. Green Mountain Power launched its BYOD program last year. The program runs on a first come, first served basis and has a limit of 2 MW of storage or about 600 customers.

The BYOD program enables GMP to call on the enrolled storage devices to reduce demand on the grid during times of peak usage. Lowering peak demand lowers costs for all customers, GMP said, adding that the program pays for itself in the savings.

“We are using the program for peak shaving,” Kelly said. “The main point is that we are cutting carbon emissions and we are cutting costs for all GMP customers. Peak costs from the regional bulk grid, which is largely out of our control, are one of the biggest drivers of rates.”

The new BYOD program is part of a partnership between Renewable Energy Vermont and GMP to increase the availability of products and services to help individuals, organizations and groups “make energy transformation in a quicker, more coordinated way to fight climate change,” Green Mountain Power noted.

Green Mountain Power is hoping that the BYOD incentives will encourage customers to add storage to their solar power systems, which can help shift peak demand and avoid the need for more fast response peaking resources. The program also aims to help the utility meet its renewable energy goals.

Vermont has a 75%-by-2032 renewable portfolio standard.

Green Mountain Power is still collecting data, but it estimates that its power sources were 90% carbon dioxide free and 60% renewable in 2018. The majority of that generation came from hydroelectric resources.

Green Mountain Power was one of the first utilities to embrace residential energy storage. In 2015, it launched a program offering up to 500 customers Tesla Powerwall residential battery systems for about $37 per month for 10 years. Customers would be able to use the batteries for backup power while the utility could use them to help manage its peak load.

Customer uptake was slow, however, according to a 2018 report from the Rocky Mountain Institute. Green Mountain Power has since reduced the monthly charge to $15 per month.

Green Mountain Power serves 75% of electric customers in Vermont. It was acquired by Gaz Metro of Montreal in 2006, which has since changed its name to Energir. In 2012, Gaz Metro acquired Central Vermont Public Service and merged it with GMP, making the combined utility the largest electricity provider in Vermont. Energir is privately owned.