COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) – Businesses looking to tackle challenges utilities are wrestling with have a chance to do that in Vermont with some help. The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund backs a green business accelerator program pushing companies to think outside the box to make an impact on our grid and our climate.
“One of the exciting opportunities we have in Vermont is to continue to lead the way in continuing to deliver these innovations to customers,” said Kristin Carlson of Green Mountain Power.
Green Mountain Power has a focus on transforming the energy grid in the state, rethinking how energy reaches your home. But their innovative ideas don’t always come from in-house. GMP has worked with a handful of startup companies through the Climate Conscious Business Accelerator Program, DeltaClimeVT, on projects ranging from refrigeration solutions to EV charging expansion companies.
“I talk to the utilities and say what are the problems you want to focus on in the next coming, say two years or so,” said Geoffrey Robertson, the managing director of DeltaClimeVT.
DeltaClimeVT focuses on the climate economy. Their 14-week program teaches fledgling companies about business modeling, scaling and investment strategies.
Utilities like GMP offer mentoring and access to real-world challenges and scenarios.
“The access to high-level employees from the utilities to help the companies really understand, are they doing the right thing, are they tackling the right problem,” Robertson explained.
The wind turbine that sits on top of the Burlington International Airport was the most recent recipient of the pilot program funding.
Robertson says Vermont has been running businesses through this program since 2017, with 46 of them making it through the curriculum.
Companies come from all over the country looking to use their innovation to tackle Vermont’s biggest problem areas.
“The program is focused largely on heating and transportation, and so that’s obviously the two biggest areas we have problems here in the state,” Robertson said.
Back in Colchester, pilot projects have turned into partnerships for some companies GMP has worked with, largely because the utility believes the innovation fostered during the DeltaClimeVT program pays dividends for customers.
“Being able to partner with these businesses early on, in the start-up phase when they are looking for feedback has the most benefit,” Carlson said.
Applications for the class of 2023 close in February.
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