One state utility company is running it back with a method reminiscent of a popular elementary school science experiment, with hopes of making power outages a thing of the past in less than seven years.
Ivan Penn of The New York Times reported in early October that Green Mountain Power, which serves 270,000 houses and businesses in Vermont, has plans to install television-size batteries in most homes once the official approval comes through.
“Call us the un-utility,” Green Mountain chief executive Mari McClure told Penn. “We’re completely flipping the model, decentralizing it.”
McClure added that the utility company took into account concerns about rising electrical costs from consumers, as well as the extreme weather events like floods in Vermont that have affected people’s access to electricity.
“We don’t want the power to be off for our customers ever,” McClure said. “People’s lives are on the line.”
Like other parts of the country, Vermont has been impacted by the negative effects of changing global temperatures, with the latest recorded 11-year span (2010-20) on the Vermont government website being the warmest ever.
Our planet’s warmer temperatures have also been linked to dangerous weather events, which can ultimately also increase the cost of certain services.
The hope is the batteries will help people keep their power on in the summer as well, when they need to stay cool, because they are a more affordable investment in energy infrastructure.
According to McClure, other types of large-scale projects to prevent power outages could cause the price of electricity to be too much for some consumers, leaving them vulnerable as heat is the leading cause of weather-related fatalities.
The cost of electricity in Vermont is already 29% above the national average, per Penn.
Leah Stokes, an associate professor of environmental politics at the University of California in Santa Barbara, believes Green Mountain’s plan could provide a blueprint for other communities.
“It really is the model, especially if you’re worried about power outages,” Stokes told Penn. “It really could become the example for the rest of the country.”
Some on X, formerly known as Twitter, were similarly intrigued by the promise of the idea.
“We need more of this innovative approach to batteries from all utility suppliers,” one commenter wrote.
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