As solar and wind power have come closer to mainstream electric generation environments…WE Energies had done everything in it’s power to prevent their growth in Wisconsin (btw: WE has a bank of solar panels on their downtown Milwaukee headquarters). For instance they’ve been trying to prevent private solar installers from putting panels on private homes and selling the power to the home owner and then selling the excess back to the grid. Obviously this puts WE at a disadvantage since they support the grid and buy the excess electricity at retail since the meter runs backwards when power is pushed back out. But this all seems akin to a 1909 buggy whip salesman trying to prevent the construction of gas stations…maybe WE should try THIS…buy the gas station!
In a new low-income development that replaced a trailer park here, rooftop solar panels sparkle in the sun while backup batteries quietly hum away in utility closets.
About an hour away, in Rutland, homes and businesses along a once-distressed corridor are installing the latest in energy-saving equipment, including special insulation and heat pumps.
And throughout Vermont, customers are signing up for a new program that will allow them to power their homes while entirely disconnected from the grid.
The projects are part of a bold experiment aimed at turning homes, neighborhoods and towns into virtual power plants, able to reduce the amount of energy they draw from the central electric system. But behind them are not green energy advocates or proponents of living off the land. Instead, it’s the local electric company, Green Mountain Power (emphasis mine).
This seems totally logical. The local utilities can easily grow their green footprint without having to build huge solar farms or wind farms and transmission lines. The basic infrastructure, their grid, is in place…all of the houses and businesses and industrial sites are already wired. They already have relationships with all of these customers. They can reduce their investments in additional power plants. They can reduce the competition for natural gas between power plants and individual users. They can start with those already inclined to go green. They can garner an absolute ton of good will and positive public relations. They can be ahead of the curve when green energy requirements start to get more serious again.
What do you say WE Energies?