Green Mountain Power, the Vermont utility that has received national attention for its very Vermont-ish approach to producing and distributing electricity, has taken another interesting step: It is partnering with Tesla to offer home storage batteries for customers. The utility explains it in a press release:
GMP will offer customers the option to purchase outright or lease with no upfront cost the Tesla Powerwall battery — empowering customers to become more energy independent while also allowing the utility to reduce peak demand on the system. … GMP is the first utility in the country to partner with Tesla to offer the Powerwall.
The Tesla home battery can be paired with small-scale solar such as rooftop panels to store locally generated energy or used without solar as a battery to store power from the grid. During a storm or emergency, the battery is able to power essential parts of the home like lights, refrigerators, and furnaces.
In its recent filing, GMP outlined to the Vermont Public Service Board its plan to offer three options to customers who want the Powerwall. Customers who share access of the battery will pay about $37.50 a month with no upfront cost. … Customers can also choose to purchase the Powerwall for about $6500, share access with GMP, and get a monthly bill credit of $31.76, which represents the value of leveraging the battery to help lower peak energy costs. Or customers can buy the Powerwall outright from GMP with no shared access for about $6500.
The benefit to the utility, at least in theory, is that it can reduce the need to upgrade or extend transmission systems, or buy more electricity, if more customers people can dead individually with occasional peaks in demand. Coping with such peaks – during a long cold spell or, more often, a long hot spell – is one of the biggest costs and headaches for utilities.