Since 2009, Vermont's electric utilities, which include investor-owned companies, cooperatives and small municipal utilities, have worked together to create a statewide smart grid infrastructure. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded Vermont's utilities a multi-million dollar grant in to further those efforts. The funds will bring smart meters to more than 80 percent of Vermont consumers by 2015, facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, increase efficiency, and add stability by incorporating electric vehicles and their storage capabilities to the grid.
To further the impact of this program, called eEnergy Vermont, DOE also awarded a Power Systems Fellowship worth nearly $1 million to Sandia National Laboratories to work with the University of Vermont and other stakeholders to promote workforce development and advance change in the state's electric power sector.
The project is driving innovation in a broad spectrum of areas, including technology development and integration, consumer outreach, public education, public policy and workforce training.
The partnership also supports research and development, pairing Sandia researchers with faculty at several Vermont academic institutions, including the University of Vermont, the Vermont Law School and Norwich University.
Specifically the Initiative will:
- Bring together a broad array of stakeholders, academic institutions, utility companies, private industry, residential and industrial consumers, policymakers and regulators to engage in collaborative discussion and statewide energy planning
- Showcase Vermont's statewide efforts in implementing and optimizing 21st century energy systems
- Articulate the advantages of the smart grid to both residential and business consumers
- Educate a workforce skilled in next-generation energy technologies
- Support multi-disciplinary research and development in sustainable energy systems
- Identify the complex interactions that can occur in an integrated energy system
A Statewide Partnership
Participating institutions will bring unique but complementary strengths to the project. Sandia National Laboratories has a wealth of expertise, facilities, and leadership experience, with an international reputation for excellence in science, technology and engineering R&D, a focus on energy and infrastructure assurance and a commitment to workforce development.
The University of Vermont has a demonstrated commitment to academic research, teaching andthrough its Office of Technology Commercialization and partnership with the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologiesto technology transfer and workplace innovation. The university also has several centers, including the Complex Systems Center, the Transportation Research Center, the James M. Jeffords Center and Vermont EPSCoR whose work adds value to this project.
In addition, Vermont has a vibrant and dedicated energy community, collaborative utilities, committed policymakers and innovative non-profits. Vermont's electric efficiency utility, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation is a national and global leader in energy efficiency, and its 22 electric utilities cooperate on statewide initiatives to a degree unsurpassed by other states. The state also has the Vermont Law School, a world-renowned institution that specializes in environmental and energy law, Norwich University with expertise in cybersecurity and a state college system focused on workforce development.