MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont's largest electric utility wants to turn the city of Rutland into a national example of energy efficiency while helping the community revitalize itself, officials said Wednesday in announcing the program.
Green Mountain Power officials said the 14-part plan would include solar panels and vehicle charging stations, which could attract new workers to the area and help re-energize the city as it deals with a weak economy, an aging population, crime, and illegal drug use.
A key to the plan is the use of pilot programs centered in Rutland to help the company develop new customer offerings, like the heat pump program announced earlier this month, and new economic development initiatives.
"It's a multi-part strategic plan that we've put together to figure out a way to do a lot of work that as the energy company of the future we should be doing anyway to benefit all of our customers in Vermont," Green Mountain Power President Mary Powell said. "We're creating a city lab around Rutland and connecting that to the economic revitalization of the city."
The project calls for the installation of new quick-charge technology for electric vehicles; a Rutland "energy park" to demonstrate different types of renewable technologies, such as micro-wind and solar; and a regional recruiting campaign to attract new workers and families to the area.
Last year, the utility announced plans to make Rutland the solar capital of New England, with 6.25 megawatts of capacity by 2017. On Wednesday, Powell improved on that goal, revising it to 10 megawatts by the end of 2015.
The plan is part of a broader objective to help the city continue what local officials are calling a rebirth, by turning the community into a think-tank of energy efficiency ideas and demonstration projects.
"Some of the ideas could make a difference, not just to the state, but to the nation," Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras said.