Rutland Herald: GMP says Rutland, by any other name, will be just as solar a city

Aug 08, 2012 No Comments by

Reposted from Rutland Herald.


Green Mountain Power is no longer referring to its solar city initiative as the solar city initiative.

“You can still call it a ‘solar city,’” Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation, said Tuesday. “I just can’t.”


“Solar City” was the name the utility gave to its effort to make Rutland the city with the highest per-capita solar power generation in the Northeast, one of the promises it made in return for the city’s endorsement of its recently completed merger with Central Vermont Public Service Corp.


However, “SolarCity” turns out to be the name of a solar technology company based in California (and “Solar City” the name of a renewable energy consulting firm in Australia.)


Costello said GMP recently got a letter from SolarCity (the California one) alleging that the Vermont utility’s use of the term infringed on the California company’s trademark. He said GMP decided not to argue the point.


“It seems like a very generic terms for us,” he said. “We think we would win the right to use it … we just don’t want to waste our time or our energy on this.”


So, Costello said, GMP will now refer to their effort to make Rutland the “solar capital of Vermont.”


“Our goal is not changing,” Costello said. “Our goal is still to make Rutland the city with the highest solar capacity in the Northeast.”


So why not call it the “solar capital of the Northeast?”


“That’s actually a great idea,” Costello said.


A call to SolarCity was not immediately returned Tuesday.


Downtown Rutland Partnership executive director Michael Coppinger said that the solar city concept has not yet played a significant role in Rutland’s marketing efforts, he expected it would as the effort continues and that the partnership anticipates working with Green Mountain on some projects.


“The complete merger just took effect not that long ago,” he said. “As it starts to unfold more and more, especially with the innovation center … we’ll definitely look to use that as a marketing piece.”


GMP did not even try to trademark the “solar city” term, Costello said, and thought of themselves as using it generically.


“When we created the Cow Power program, the federal government wouldn’t let us trademark ‘Cow Power’ because it was too generic,” he said. “We had to trademark the whole ‘CVPS Cow Power’ term. … Nobody trademarked the terms ‘Marble City’ or ‘Onion City.’”


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