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Vermont Announces Marriage of Telecommunications and Smart Energy

28 Jul 2011

The synergy between telecommunication and smart energy has taken another step forward now that several key players in Vermont’s electric and telecommunications industries have announced the finalization of a collaborative agreement to give Vermont more control over energy consumption and expand access to broadband and telecommunications services.  An agreement between Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), and Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) is designed to reduce America’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels while simultaneously providing high-speed internet access statewide by the end of 2013.

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin notes, “What we are celebrating is the operating agreement that supports the marriage of smart grid and our telecommunications infrastructure. Smart grid is a national and Vermont priority. Early on, I spoke of a ‘wireless canopy’ across Vermont. This is but one application that will rely on that canopy.”

Green Mountain Power, CVPS and their 17 partners will install about 250,000 smart meters over the next two years that will transmit their information to and from homes via VTel’s wireless open world broadband network.

Under the agreement, the partnering companies will share VTel-owned and operated technology to expand the smart grid efforts to provide energy information to companies and homeowners, as well as deliver high-speed broadband service across the state. The Vtel Wireless Open World (WOW) project, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, is expected to be complete in early 2013, staying in sync with the activation of the smart grid.

Karen Marshall, who heads  Connect VT, explains, “Today’s agreement is a major milestone in our efforts through 2013, and a groundbreaking move for smart grid installations across the nation. GMP and CVPS are the first two utilities in the country to rely on a commercial, 4G LTE communications network. The operating agreement will provide the security and data prioritization attributes necessary to operate SG across a public network. This development is directly aligned with the goals of the FCC’s national Broadband Plan as it looks to integrate commercial broadband communications networks into smart grid applications.”

Governor Shumlin says, “The real promise of smart grid for Vermonters is to reduce peak demand on our electrical distribution system by giving consumers the information they need to change electric use patterns; integrating clean renewable power generation, and eventually supporting the adoption of electric vehicles. Realizing that promise requires two way communications and this agreement supports that.”

VTel owner Michel Guite adds: “Vtel’s service will reach many un-served and under-served areas of Vermont, which is critical for connecting our state to the modern economy. Plus, this connectivity will enable a more robust smart grid, enabling even larger impacts on energy efficiency.”