Where My Power Comes From
GMP is more focused than ever on providing Vermonters with a balance of the most reliable, affordable, smart, and clean electricity possible. This desire for balance is the guiding principle in all that we do, always with a focus on the future. It will drive us to reach our goal to be the best small utility in America.
Electricity is fundamental to a whole lot of things that we do at home and at work. Despite its importance, it is something we rarely think about. It is certainly something we never see, hear or smell. Few of us can adequately define exactly what it is. So, that’s exactly what we’ll do here:
Electricity is the flow of small particles known as electrons. The transmission of those electrons releases energy.
Electrons are found in atoms. Atoms are the smallest part of an element that cannot be broken down by chemical means. Electrons in the atoms of metal, such as copper and aluminum, are easily moved along a wire.
How we make the electricity that turns the lights on
It seems so simple. At that level, it is. But when it comes to creating that electricity and transmitting it to you cleanly and efficiently, things start to get a lot more complicated. We’ll keep from getting ahead of ourselves, though, and start right at the beginning.
The production of electricity is called generation. Generation facilities, better known as power plants, are the first step in providing electricity to customers. Using some form of energy to turn a turbine, like the sun, moving water, or burning fuel, creates electricity. Water provides one of the simplest examples. At a hydroelectric site, water typically falls downhill through a large tube, called a penstock. The force of the water, which increases with height, spins a turbine at the bottom of the tube, which moves electrons along a wire. The flow of electrons along the wire makes an electric current. This current is what powers our lives.
Power producers measure the output generation in kilowatts or megawatts. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts‚ enough energy to light 10, 100-watt light bulbs (or 50 energy-efficient 20-watt bulbs). One megawatt is equal to 1,000 kilowatts. Typically, one megawatt is enough energy to meet the instantaneous demand of about 1,000 Vermont homes.
The electricity generated by a power plant is sold in units called kilowatt-hours or megawatt-hours. A kilowatt-hour is the unit of electricity consumed if your demand is consistently one kilowatt over the course of an hour. If you used 10, 100-watt light bulbs for one hour, you would use one kilowatt-hour of electricity.
How we get that electricity to your light bulbs
Different kinds of power cables transport electricity from the power plant to your home or business. High-voltage electricity is moved through transmission lines, which carry the current over long distances from the power plant to the substation. Large transformers at substations reduce, or step down, the intensity of the electricity so that it can be moved safely along to the smaller distribution system.
The distribution lines that make up the system are the wires you see running pole-to-pole along the street. These lines are also the ones that run from the pole to your home, connecting you to the grid and delivering your electricity. This distribution system is made up of three-phase (or three-wire) line and single-phase (or one-wire) line. Three-phase lines are generally used for large commercial customers. Single-phase lines serve residential customers.
Just before the current reaches your home, a distribution transformer steps down the voltage of the electricity again. This transformer can usually be found on the pole outside of your house or in your neighborhood. From this transformer, power travels down the line, through your meter and into your home’s network of electrical wires and outlets, powering everything from your refrigerator to your TV.
Probably the most impressive thing about all of this is that it happens in an instant. At almost the exact moment you’re turning on the light, we’re generating the electricity to power the bulb.
Reliable, clean and cost-effective power – it’s what our customers tell us they want and that’s what we work hard every day to provide. GMP's energy portfolio is one of the cleanest and our rates are second lowest overall in New England. Together, we are charting a course for clean and affordable energy we can all be proud of.
Solar is one of the most exciting renewable energy sources because it can be accessible to almost anyone who is interested in reducing their carbon footprint and saving money over time. Solar projects come in all sizes from small-scale rooftop and small arrays near homes to large-scale utility sized solar farms powering thousands of homes.
Renewable Education Center
GMP’s Renewable Education Center is a great way to learn more about solar, and see solar panels up close. Vermonters are welcomed to visit GMP’s 264-panel solar array along one of Vermont’s busiest highways, Route 7 in Rutland Town. In addition to generating clean power, this project serves as a working classroom for students and others interested in homegrown, emissions-free energy.
Click here to see where solar is powering our state. You can learn where projects are connected to the grid and operational. We also show projects that are proposed for the future by substation and circuit.
*This map is updated periodically to try and reflect the latest information.
If you have questions about solar at GMP, contact the Distributed Resources team at 802-770-3399 or contact by email at DR@greenmountainpower.com.
Green Mountain Power’s two wind farms in Searsburg and Lowell collectively provide locally generated power for about 26,000 homes. Kingdom Community Wind, located in Lowell, Vermont came online in 2012 and serves as a great example of how community engagement and respect for natural environment can shape energy work for the benefit of all Vermonters.
A weekly public tour of Kingdom Community Wind during the months of June, July and August. You will experience the working wind farm up close and learn how we harness the wind to generate power. The 2017 tour schedule will be available in the spring.
Hydroelectricity produces the most affordable renewable power we generate. We have the largest fleet of hydro plants in New England with 36 stations across Vermont. Collectively these stations quietly power Vermont affordably and reliably, generating enough to power 56,000 homes. Some of our sites also provide fun public access facilities, like picnic areas and boat ramps as well. Two of our most popular plants for tours are Proctor Hydro, and our hydro facility in Essex Junction.
From cow manure to cow power – Green Mountain Power converts methane waste from cow manure to power for our customers, reducing carbon emissions and providing much needed support for our family farms. One cow produces over 30 gallons of manure a day. Now, multiply that by 1,000, the number of cows on a typical Cow Power farm.
There are 14 farms in the Cow Power program, with about 13,500 cows. That means we are taking out 73,000 tons of methane, which is the equivalent of removing 15,420 passenger cars from the road, burning over 8.2 million gallons of gas every year – that’s nearly 1000 tanker trucks of gasoline! All of this cow power helps power 3,200 homes in Vermont with renewable energy.
Learn more and enroll in GMP Cow Power.
Cow Power Partners
Cow Power would be little more than an idea without a herd of great partners. From our GMP Cow Power farm producers to the thousands of customers enrolled in the program, together, we’re making a big difference for customers. We’d like to give a bit shout out to our commercial Cow Power partners. Their investment is making a big difference for farmers and for our state: Groennfell Meadery, Killington Resort, Long Trail Brewing Company, Vermont Hard Cider (Woodchuck Hard Cider), Drew’s All Natural, Vermont Clothing Company, Middlebury College, Mary Meyer Stuffed Toys, Green Mountain College, Cobb Hill Community, The Equinox Resort, the Vermont Community Foundation, Cooperative Insurance, the Green Mountain National Forest, and the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Park, which rank among our biggest supporters.
Cow Power Farm Partners
And of course this program would not be possible without the innovation, leadership and hard work of our family farm partners. Our farm partners include Benjamins Riverview Farm, Berkshire Cow Power LLC, Blue Spruce Farm, Chaput Family Farms, Dubois Farm, Four Hills Farm, Gervais Family Farm, Green Mountain Dairy, Kane’s Cow Power LLC, Maplehurst Farm, Maxwell’s Neighborhood Energy LLC, Monument Farms, Westminster Dairy, Rail City Cow Power.