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Can you take an entire town 'off the grid?' A Vermont utility thinks you can

Climate change is making weather more extreme in Vermont and across the country. In a lot of places, our electricity infrastructure — poles and wires — are pretty exposed. Nationwide, our power grid was built for less stormy times.

And that’s a problem, as Vermont and other places look to power more and more of our heat and transportation with electricity from renewable sources.

More fromBrave Little State: How much does Vermont's power grid depend on fossil fuels?

So how do we make our grid more reliable at the same time we’re trying to make it cleaner? Some people say creating “microgrids” could help.

A microgrid is a little section that can pop off from the rest of the grid during a power outage to become an island. It makes its own electricity and stores it.

For the people connected to a microgrid, they don’t even know there’s been a power outage.

In the past, places like hospitals or schools may have had diesel backup generators that did this. But a recent experiment in Vermont is showing that you can do the same thing using batteries and energy from the sun.

How does it all work? We break it down above.

NOVA's national Climate Across America initiative has been made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, deepening its efforts to build the capacity of local PBS stations to tell climate solution science stories that have an impact in their communities.

Abagael is Vermont Public's climate and environment reporter, focusing on the energy transition and how the climate crisis is impacting Vermonters — and Vermont’s landscape.

Abagael joined Vermont Public in 2020. Previously, she was the assistant editor at Vermont Sports and Vermont Ski + Ride magazines. She covered dairy and agriculture for The Addison Independent and got her start covering land use, water and the Los Angeles Aqueduct for The Sheet: News, Views & Culture of the Eastern Sierra in Mammoth Lakes, Ca.
As a Producer, Mike helps cultivate and develop stories from and about our community for visual presentation. His 20 years of technical experience as a Director and Editor enables him to help deliver our content across multiple platforms to connect our stories to as many folks as possible.
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