A cooperative in northern Vermont serving a largely rural area has proven that even small utilities can achieve great smart grid results by planning wisely. For improving service to its members by developing a grid modernization strategy before “smart grid” was a buzz phrase, Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) is the winner of the first POWER Smart Grid Award.
VEC is a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative founded in 1938 and Vermont’s third-largest electric distribution utility. VEC began putting its grid modernization plan together in 2001—well before what would come to be known as smart grid projects were on the radar of even large utilities.
Unlike some other deployments of smart meters, VEC’s primary rationale for the bidirectional meters was to improve service, rather than change end user behavior right away. Combined with a new GPS-enabled outage management system, substation upgrades, online access to electricity usage information, and other initiatives, VEC’s smart grid efforts have enabled it to cut outages in half, reduce outage time, and improve customers’ understanding of their monthly bills.
For more details about the project, see “Vermont Electric Cooperative Takes Wise Approach to Smart Grid Projects” in the August issue of POWER (www.powermag.com).