What Can California Learn From The Vermont Blackouts?

by Anna Gretz
November 14, 2019
Home Battery

California isn't the only state battling blackouts...

... and they may not be giving the best performance, either.

Blackouts in Vermont last month left 115,000 without power, but over 1,000 of those homes kept the lights on with home batteries.

Wildfires weren't the culprit this time. Major winds and rains hit Vermont on Halloween night, damaging power lines and leaving hundreds of thousands in the dark.

How were homeowners in Vermont so prepared?

In short, the Grid Transformation Pilot launched by Green Mountain Power.

A few years ago Tesla and Green Mountain Power teamed up to offer Vermont residents an easy way to protect their power with home batteries. Homeowners could pay only $15 per month for backup power through energy storage. The Grid Transformation Pilot created a fleet of utility-owned and controlled Tesla Powerwall batteries that residents could use to power their homes in the event of an outage. The utility could also use the stored energy to meet peak demand in the area when they needed it. A lot of people got on board.

The project paid off way before the Halloween outages. The pilot program saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in it's initial months by providing backup power during peak events. In 2018 alone, the network of batteries saved $600,000 on capacity fees by allowing reduced consumption during the New England peak hour (when customers demand the most electricity.) This year, the batteries total 10 megawatts of capacity. During a peak hour in July, the backup wattage saved almost a million dollars (yeah, you heard us right, in just a single hour.)

That's great for Vermont's grid, but what about the homeowners?

Glad you asked. The reliability and economic boost to the grid was obvious. But on Halloween, the benefit to homeowners became crystal clear.

100 mph gusts of wind hit power lines in Vermont on October 31st, causing widespread damage across the entire state. As a result, 1,100 battery-backed homes islanded from the grid, and provided the households with power, even though the grid shut down.

The event was so successful, GMP plans to continue installing 10 additional megawatts of distributed batteries every year. This would protect even more households from downed wires, and weather-related outages.

 

 

What does this have to do with California?

California's outages were not wind-related like Vermont's, but they were still a huge disruption to the homes left without power. Distributed battery storage has the potential to protect the power of California's homeowners.

A grid-sponsored program would be ideal, but in the meantime, you can still protect your own power for as little as $1 a day.

Swell Energy presents EnergyShield In a blackout, EnergyShield runs your lights and basic appliances off a smart home battery, so you and your family can feel safe.

Keep your home and family safe from grid failure and power outages for ever.

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