ARKANSAS, Oct 17 (Future Headlines)- Over the past 12 months, the state of Vermont has been confronted with an unprecedented series of damaging storms. These events, ranging from powerful winter storms to catastrophic flooding, have left thousands without power, disrupted daily life, and incurred substantial costs for repair and recovery. As a response to these growing challenges, Green Mountain Power (GMP), Vermont’s largest electric utility, has unveiled its ambitious Zero Outages Initiative. This initiative aims to eliminate power outages for all its customers by 2030. Key components of the project include the deployment of microgrids, energy storage batteries, and the storm-hardening of power lines. By enhancing resilience and reducing costs, the Zero Outages Initiative seeks to provide sustainable and reliable power while mitigating the impact of extreme weather events.

One of the central pillars of the Zero Outages Initiative is the integration of microgrids and energy storage systems. These technologies are critical for fortifying the power grid against storms and other disruptions. GMP plans to utilize data such as circuit-level resiliency, community vulnerability, topography, and other metrics to prioritize and develop resiliency plans for each of its 300 circuits. This approach allows for tailored solutions that address the unique needs of each community served by GMP.

The company will implement the Zero Outages Initiative in two phases. Phase one, set to occur over the next two years, will focus on rural central and southern Vermont. During this phase, GMP will invest $250 million in undergrounding and storm-hardening power lines, as well as an additional $30 million in energy storage projects, including microgrids and residential batteries for remote areas.

Phase two, scheduled for a 2026 launch, has not yet been formally detailed, but GMP intends to explore emerging technologies like bidirectional charging, which allows electric vehicle batteries to be used as a power source. These innovative approaches signify a long-term commitment to building a robust, reliable, and sustainable energy infrastructure in Vermont.

While the primary goal of the Zero Outages Initiative is to enhance resilience, this effort has wider-reaching benefits. Improved grid resilience not only safeguards well-being but also reduces costs for both the utility and the customers. GMP, serving more than 75% of Vermont, has recently experienced the three most damaging storms in its history, incurring repair costs exceeding $45 million. Over the past decade, storms in the GMP service area have caused $115 million in damage, with 40% of those costs accumulating over the last two years.

Research indicates that investing in disaster preparedness and mitigation can ultimately save multiple times the cost of avoided response and recovery expenses. Furthermore, it prevents health and safety impacts associated with outages and storm damage.

GMP’s Zero Outages Initiative is expected to be a game-changer, not only in Vermont but potentially as a pioneering model for the United States. The comprehensive approach prioritizes grid resiliency, ensuring that the lights stay on for customers while significantly enhancing the safety of line workers who often face the harshest conditions during restoration efforts.

By reducing exposure to extreme elements, both the utility’s field workers and the communities they serve benefit from increased safety. The initiative acknowledges the ongoing increase in extreme weather events and emphasizes that proactive investment in resilience can be a cost-effective and life-saving measure.

Green Mountain Power’s Zero Outages Initiative is pioneering in its comprehensive strategy to address the challenges posed by extreme weather events. The initiative builds upon the utility’s previous efforts to bolster resilience and create an extensive energy storage network. It includes the installation of underground lines, active microgrids, utility-scale batteries, and vehicle-to-grid systems.

As part of these efforts, GMP has installed 5,000 batteries in customers’ homes and secured regulatory approval to lift the enrollment cap on its residential battery program. By adopting a multifaceted approach, GMP strives to enhance grid resilience, mitigate costs, and promote sustainability in Vermont.

The Zero Outages Initiative, spearheaded by Green Mountain Power, represents a forward-thinking solution to the increasing challenges posed by extreme weather events in Vermont. By prioritizing resilience and adopting cutting-edge technologies like microgrids and energy storage, GMP is taking significant steps toward providing sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective power to its customers. This initiative is expected to serve as a model for other regions aiming to tackle similar issues and reinforce grid infrastructure against the impacts of climate change.

Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White