Green Mountain Power (GMP) in Vermont has several high-impact opportunities to build upon its customer-focused energy programs while reimagining its business model as an “energy transformation company,” delivering low-carbon, affordable, reliable energy to customers, according to a new Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) report.
Electric utilities like Green Mountain Power are confronted by new economic and operational challenges. Customers are demanding more choice over their energy use, even as overall demand is flat or declining, and as new energy-saving technologies reach more homes and businesses. State legislatures like Vermont’s are mandating new targets for renewable energy generation that require new and innovative ways to think about generating and using energy. Needed investments to modernize an aging grid require sustained capital investment in a rapidly changing operational and economic landscape.
Vermont has set a requirement that 75 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2032, including 10 percent from distributed generation, and that all utilities achieve fossil-fuel savings equivalent to 12 percent of their annual electric sales through energy transformation projects, such as replacing gas or oil heating systems with electric heat pumps, or replacing gasoline cars with electric vehicles (EVs).
GMP is responding through its transformation vision, offering innovative energy products and services, building new revenue sources to help keep energy rates affordable and using distributed energy resources like storage and demand-response technologies to enable customers to actively participate in generating and managing energy. RMI’s Customer-Centric Energy Transformation report provides recommendations to GMP for expanding its offerings and impact as it shifts its business model toward an energy-services company.
“GMP is partnering with customers on this new energy future, to find ways to continue to drive down costs,” said Josh Castonguay, GMP vice president of innovation. “Reports like this from RMI help push us to move faster in this innovative future, and think creatively about better ways to serve our customers. The energy transformation that is happening is exciting, and we are so proud Vermont is helping lead the way.”
“GMP’s commitment to evolve its business and operating strategy supports the needs of its customers, the goals of the state of Vermont and the health of the electric grid,” Mike Henchen, a manager at RMI and one of the lead authors of the report, said. “The company’s efforts help guide the way toward the transformation of the larger energy system to one that is more innovative for customers, and low carbon, affordable and reliable.”
New service offerings already introduced by GMP include a managed EV charging program for homeowners, as well as an automated demand flexibility program to shift the operations of water heaters, thermostats and EVs to capture less-expensive energy rates available at different times of the day.
GMP hired Rocky Mountain Institute as a consultant to assess how GMP can advance the transformation to a low-carbon, reliable, affordable energy system by building on its portfolio of innovative customer programs and its evolving business model. GMP Chief Executive Mary Powell also serves as a trustee on RMI’s board.
— Solar Builder magazine