In 2017, 14 people in a Florida nursing home died when Hurricane Irma knocked out their power. Without air conditioning, they died of overheating. Twelve of those 14 deaths were ruled to be homicide, as they could have been prevented if anyone had taken action on their behalf.
Hurricanes and high heat are a growing fact of life on the east coast of the U.S., and odds are good that this exact scenario will happen again. It is with this in mind that the Vermont Low Income Trust for Electricity (VLITE) has backed a grant to help. They have offered $150,000 to install 100 massive battery backups in the walls of low-income, high-risk customers.
The batteries, Tesla Powerwall 2.0 batteries, are meant for exactly this: to power a home for a short period of time (8-12 hours for a whole house, longer if used selectively) in case of a blackout. Ordinarily, through the provider (Green Mountain Power, in this case) they cost $1,500 upfront or an ongoing $15/month fee. To buy one outright and have it installed can cost over $10,000. Green Mountain reports that the 2000 Powerwalls they’ve already distributed to paying customers can be expected to save them an accumulated $2-3 million over the batteries’ lifespan, and much more for customers who supplement with solar.
The customers chosen to receive free batteries and installation with the grant will be mostly senior citizens and the disabled, along with people who have medical needs for uninterrupted power or those who would be endangered by the loss of their air conditioning.
VLITE is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation with a mission to represent “the best interests of the public” in building an energy-secure State of Vermont. They are currently overseeing 21 different energy-related grants to a total of nearly $2 million. They are funded by dividends from Vermont Electric Power Company.
Photo courtesy of Kenneth Lund via Flickr Creative Commons.