Feb 01, 2017

Energy Trek to Green Mountain Power’s Stafford Hill Solar Farm

Meghna KediaBy Meghna Kedia T’18

I don’t consider myself a morning person. My gym buddy would attest to that. But when it came to waking up at 7:00 a.m. on a chilly November day in Hanover to trek towards the Stafford Hill Solar Farm in Rutland, VT, I was every bit as annoying as that “Are we there yet?” kid. My fellow Tuckies and I were excited to see new technology in action. Fortunately, we made good time crossing over state lines. Surprised to be parking near a 9.5 acre land-fill, we had to check the GPS to make sure we’d come the right way.

Huddling together, looking like our weather app had cheated us, 30 other Tuckies and I were welcomed by Dan Mackey, the “energy champion” and project manager for Green Mountain Power’s (GMP) 2.2 megawatt solar array at Stafford. Dan has been with GMP for 25 years. The solar array is his baby, and there was a subtle pride in how his crew, against all-weather odds, laid each of the 7,000 panels. When prompted to explain why GMP chose to put a photovoltaic (PV) plant right on top of a waste eye sore, he explained, “At GMP, we believe in putting unusable land to use.” Move over residential solar, GMP is paneling brownfields.

It was inspiring to see a utility company in the small state of Vermont focused on providing integrated energy services and generating clean, cost-effective and reliable power. With state-of-the-art demand response for power outages in a winter storm prone area, the GMP crew is setting new standards, including providing weather updates on Facebook and Twitter.

The panels have been fired up for less than a year now, but GMP’s state-of-the art facility is not just a solo act—it’s a game-changing partnership with DynaPower, a global leader in energy storage inverters. Storage is to solar what filters are to Instagram. As an engineer, I felt like I’d seen it all, when we stood inside the storage system of four, 500 kW solar plus storage inverters, which combined solar-PV and battery energy storage within a single inverter. Dan went on to mention that it was this marriage of solar and storage that allowed them to meet peak summer demands and save $200,000 in a single hour!

As someone who worked in investment banking in mining, I didn’t truly understand my industry until I visited a copper mine. There aren’t too many times that you get to step out of conferences or classroom discussions around the economics of renewables to actually marvel at the majestic installations that power the future of sustainable energy.

Meghna is a clean energy and FinTech enthusiast who will tell you she’s vegetarian but she secretly loves chicken. Before Tuck she worked in natural resources investment banking in Mumbai and Toronto. She is an active member of the Tech Club, Design Club, and the Revers Center for Energy. Meghna loves being productive, even on vacations, and will often trick you into talking about Canada, managing your personal finances, and endurance training.

The Revers Center for Energy inspires and shapes tomorrow's leaders in energy while engaging today's energy community. It aspires to establish Tuck as the preeminent business school for learning practical leadership in the energy industry.