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Green Building News

This Vermont Park Is Going Off-Grid

The state's largest electric utility selects the park for a solar and battery power system to ease maintenance and repair costs

A state park at Emerald Lake, Vermont, has been selected as the state's first "ePark," where solar panels and batteries will provide the electricity. The system should be up and running by spring.
Image Credit: Matt Westgage via Flickr

A 908-acre park in southwestern Vermont will become the state’s first park to run entirely on solar power.

Emerald Lake State Park, located in Dorset and not far from the New York State Line, has been plagued by an unreliable connection to the grid. Power lines are easily damaged by falling tree limbs, and repairs are difficult because of the rough terrain they have to cross.

But by the time the park opens to campers and paddlers next spring, it should have an on-site system that combines photovoltaic (PV) modules and Tesla Powerwall batteries. As existing power lines are phased out, the park ultimately will have no connection with the grid.

Green Mountain Power named Pika Energy of Westbrook, Maine, to design the system. Company President Ben Polito says that planning has just started, so it’s too soon to know how many PV modules and batteries will be required. The park surrounds the 20-acre lake and has 67 campsites and 37 lean-tos.

The company said in a press release that Green Mountain Power is hoping the new off-grid PV system will cost 20% less than rebuilding utility lines and save as much as $8,000 annually in maintenance.

“GMP seeks Pika Energy’s products as a solution to the ‘last mile’ problem of delivering grid services to customers whose location and landscape make traditional utility lines difficult,” the company said.

The Tesla batteries earmarked for the Emerald Lake project are among the 500 Powerwalls Green Mountain Power plans to install around the state, Pika said. The batteries, to be delivered this fall, will bolster Green Mountain’s efforts to provide clean power to customers and reduce peak loads on the system, Green Mountain said in a press release.

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