Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of an organization's computer networks. They organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.
Sample of Reported Job Titles
Systems Administrator, Network Administrator, Network Engineer, Information Technology Specialist (IT Specialist), Local Area Network Administrator (LAN Administrator), Information Technology Manager (IT Manager), Information Technology Director (IT Director), Systems Engineer, Network Manager, Network Specialist
When you use your company's intranet or local computer network, you're enjoying the work of a network and computer systems administrator. These administrators ensure that email and data storage networks work properly, and keep employee workstations connected to the central computer network. They also set up and maintain an organization's computer servers and participate in decisions about hardware or software upgrades to the computer network. Some network and computer systems administrators also manage telecommunication networks so employees can work from home or on the road.
Network and computer systems administrators typically do the following:
Network and computer systems administrator jobs often require a bachelor's degree—typically in computer or information science, although sometimes a degree in computer engineering or electrical engineering is acceptable. Coursework in computer programming, networking, or systems design will be helpful. Some businesses require that an administrator get a master's degree, while others are willing to accept an associate's degree or professional certification along with related work experience.
Completing certification programs and otherwise keeping up with new technologies is also important. "It's imperative to stay current with technology trends and changes by memorizing blogs, technology magazines, and attending conferences," says Simran Sandhu, manager of network infrastructure at Adobe. "It's also important to study and learn the basics of network technology and acquire an acute understanding of how information flows. Be able to identify key services such as DNS, DHCP, and firewalls, and define the roles they play in a network infrastructure."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following information corresponds to the salaries of Network Computer Systems Administrators in 2018. The bottom 10% of earners made less than $50,990, median salary was $82,050, and the top 10% of earners made more than $130,720.
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Information retrieved from U.S. News Money: Computer Systems Administrator, Bureau of Labor Statistics: Network and Computer Systems Administrators and O*NET Online: Network and Computer Systems Administrators.
At the Black Hat and DEF CON conferences, Viasat and the NSA offered detailed accounts about what went down when Russian hackers shut off tens of thousands of satellite broadband modems in the Ukraine war’s first significant cyberattack.
On February 24, 2022, on the eve of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, KA-band satellite provider Viasat became the first prominent victim of Russian cyber aggression when a wiper attack turned off tens of thousands of Viasat’s government and commercial broadband customers' modems.
In the Black Hat talk, Mark Colaluca, vice president and CISO at Viasat Corporate, and Kristina Walker, who was the chief of defense industrial-based cybersecurity within the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Cybersecurity Collaboration Center (CCC), provided the detailed steps that took place before the modems became inoperable, during the attack, and afterward, relying in part on what subsequent investigations revealed.
According to Colaluca, on February 23, at around 5 p.m. local time, before the modems were disabled, someone attempted to log into a Viasat appliance using several sets of valid credentials, although those attempts failed. An hour later, "there was a successful unauthorized access through that VPN, which landed in the core node, but nothing happened," at least initially, Colaluca said. About two hours after that, the attackers accessed the management server that was in place inside the core node with a different set of credentials.
"From that point, over the next three to four hours, the attackers did a couple of things," Colaluca said. "One, they went to a network operations server that was present there, and its primary purpose was modem diagnostics, modem health, and how many modems are online. So that server had access to all the modems in the network in those two partitions, and they did recon work."
The attack appeared targeted, with the attackers seeking particular sets of modems in certain regions for specific customers and specific functions, learning how many modems were online. An hour later, at about midnight, the attackers accessed Viasat’s FTP server, a part of the infrastructure that delivers new software or updates to the modems. They dropped a wiper binary along with scripts to enumerate the network, interrogate it, and report back the status after the scripts completed execution.
Over the next three hours, the attackers placed the wiper toolkit on each of the targeted terminals and executed the binary to wipe the flash memory of the modems. Upon reboot, the modems became inoperable, and Viasat lost 40,000 to 45,000 modems, and “pretty much the traffic goes to zero as a bunch of modems go offline,” Colaluca said.
NSA’s Walker said that in the runup to the war, "we were tracking that there would be specific industry partners that may be targeted. We were really thinking: who are legal aid builders and providers to Ukraine and their supply chains that might be taken down? This was not something we were expecting."
“So, while Mark and his team were focused on incident response and customer recovery, we were trying to answer three questions. One, what happened, and who did it? Two, are other systems that we depend on as a United States government going to be vulnerable to a similar attack? And three, can we get out mitigations that are specific to this attack as quickly as possible to the community?" Colaluca and Walker, who had previously established a relationship, stayed in touch throughout the incident.
Colaluca revealed during his Black Hat talk a second aspect to the whole attack that had not been previously reported: the attackers hit parts of Viasat’s system that were susceptible to specifically crafted DHCP packets that flooded its infrastructure with "thousands and thousands" of DHCP requests, "over 100,000 in a 5-minute span." Viasat put a mitigation in place only to have another attack take its place, which Viasat also mitigated.
The first lesson Viasat learned from the complicated ordeal was that “incident response is the most neglected muscle group,” Colaluca said.
"We began our incident response process, which included engaging Mandiant as our third-party incident response and forensics provider. But this whole group of people [impacted by the incident] and [a complex] set of actions, we hadn’t practiced these. So, our first lesson, the good part was we had exercised the muscle memory with them and knew exactly how to engage, what they would be looking for, how to communicate with them, and how they could feed stuff back if there were other intelligence or reporting that might affect us. That muscle had been exercised."
Another incident response lesson Viasat learned was how critical it is to share information. "It's important. It's complex. It's both," Colaluca said. “We have residential subscribers that wanted to know: where’s my service? We had a wind farm, a big, large wind farm that depended on this service. Unbeknownst to us, we had commercial airlines all over the world. We have government networks all around the world."
Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), Viasat's preferred trusted method of sharing with industry partners and competitors alike also had to be kept in the loop. "Sometimes they all wanted an update. We had foreign government entities and security and intelligence services I’d never even met. I don’t speak their language, and they’re asking for hourly updates."
Viasat ended up being the primary point of communication for its customers. At the same time, the NSA’s CCC became the primary conduit for all US governments and entities, as well as foreign governments or allied partners. “And that worked really well,” Colaluca said.
NSA also pulled in its technical experts to develop “specific recommendations for both attacks that they were seeing on how to mitigate them so they could focus on their customers, and we could focus on that technical analysis and giving recommendations,” Walker said.
With its technical expertise, NSA was able to “develop a really strong attribution” pinning the attack on Russia. On May 10, the US government and NATO partners were able to attribute the attack to Russia publicly. “And that was based off the collaboration that we were able to do really, really quickly.”
Colaluca said that any attack’s sophistication is proportional to the hygiene of the network. “In some cases, it was very sophisticated and had a deep understanding of how our network worked. In other cases, it took great advantage of the tools and capabilities that were in place to execute the attack without having to do much on their own.”
This truism led Colaluca to another lesson learned: knowing what normal is. “I saw that many of the actions in the toolkit and the movement of the attacker through the network mimicked what network operators and administrators were doing on a daily basis,” he said. “So, what wasn’t normal was probably the transferring of files of toolkits or doing it at scale. And so that is something that we’ve learned. Documenting what normal is and having a nuanced look at what it should be.”
A corollary to that is developing “zones of trust” and “being okay as a security professional with breaking normal operations as a way to learn what normal is,” Colaluca said. “We found it extremely difficult, especially on older networks, to find out what normal behavior was and who was using it.”
Throughout their talks, Colaluca and Walker glided over a central mystery of the whole incident: how did the attackers gain the valid credentials to launch their attacks in the first place? Colaluca said “an exhaustive” investigation by Viasat and Mandiant showed that the attacks did not involve brute-force guessing, a default password, an unknown zero-day, or anything else having to do with the VPN appliance.
He did say the investigation included “a detailed review of personnel and normal actions and behaviors” but did not specifically state that Viasat had ruled out an insider attack. In a second talk at DEF CON, Nick Saunders, Chief Cybersecurity and Data Officer at Viasat Government, told CSO: “We don’t know how those credentials were obtained. We do know they were valid credentials,” adding that the question was still under investigation.
As a non-profit health system with more than 200 sites of care and affiliates throughout Central Indiana, Community’s full continuum of care integrates hundreds of primary and specialty care providers, specialty and acute care hospitals, surgery centers, home care services, MedCheck, and Community Clinic at... Read More
As a non-profit health system with more than 200 sites of care and affiliates throughout Central Indiana, Community’s full continuum of care integrates hundreds of primary and specialty care providers, specialty and acute care hospitals, surgery centers, home care services, MedCheck, and Community Clinic at Walgreens for urgent care, the state's largest behavioral health system, employer health services, and numerous other ambulatory locations and health services.
Community Health Network puts patients first while offering a full continuum of healthcare services, world-class innovations, and a new focus on population health management. Exceptional care, simply delivered, is what sets Community Health Network apart and what makes it a leading not-for-profit healthcare destination in Central Indiana.
Together, we focus on awareness, interaction, and acceptance of all as we value the differences that each person brings to the Community team in caring for and serving our patients and their families. To achieve this, we help our caregivers develop cultural competency skills so they can better relate to patients and each other. A variety of employee resource groups offer safe spaces for collaboration, connectivity, and conversations among participants. We believe in recognizing and celebrating all our caregivers for their unique talents.
Our commitment to the communities we serve is not just internal but goes beyond our walls. Our community partnerships and presence at community outreach events - such as INShape Black and Minority Health Fair, Circle City IN Pride Festival, and Latino Expo - allow us to reach people in new and innovative ways to address root causes of health inequity and Improve health outcomes. Read Less
Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Computer network and system administration (CNSA) refers to the day-to-day operation of these networks. CNSA professionals organize, install, and support an organization’s computer systems, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), network segments, intranets, and other data communication systems.
Systems administrators, or SysAdmins, are a central part of information technology (IT) teams that support software functions, data transfers, and network connectivity for computer systems. Their role is to oversee the network as a whole, making routine improvements and updates to ensure the system can handle all networking tasks and meet security requirements. Their duties include tracking network traffic and activity, installing and configuring software updates and performing database backups to restore and protect user information.
There are several types of system administrators that oversee a certain aspect of system operations: network administrators, security administrators, database administrators, and server administrators. Some system administrators are responsible for multiple roles while others exclusively focus on their subject area. For example, a security administrator is in charge of cybersecurity, password protection, and user access. A server administrator may have some security responsibilities alongside running hardware and operating systems.
A career as a system or network administrator may take many paths. They might work in a corporate setting, a government agency, or an educational institution. Some could end up being self-employed consultants, while others may advance their careers by moving into other IT sectors such as systems engineering or software development. Those with the required skills and accreditation have plenty of options available to them.
Job titles for CNSA professionals include:
A CNSA professional is responsible for the day-to-day operation of an organization’s network. They install and maintain network hardware and software and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. They also research computing tools, develop policies and procedures for using and maintaining the network, and may be required to provide support to users (both internally within their organization and externally with clients).
System administrators may meet with clients to discuss their computing needs and identify how they can access system tools while keeping their information secure. They may answer phone calls, mentor IT support staff, plan updates, and delegate incoming tasks to members of their team. System administrators may also perform research to find ways to Improve system efficiency by identifying signal interruptions and environmental factors that impact network performance.
Specific daily job duties may depend on the size and scope of an organization's computer systems. At smaller businesses, the system administrator may handle all IT duties, including maintaining and updating all computers, and ensuring data security and backup. Larger corporations may divide system administrators' responsibilities into more specific sub-roles, therefore resulting in specialized positions like database administrators or security administrators.
Some tasks that network and computer systems administrators undertake include:
The mean annual wage for network and computer systems administrators was $97,160 in May 2022. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $56,260 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $140,430.
Employment of network and computer systems administrators is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
While most employers require computer network and systems administrators to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information science, others may require only a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Some employers may even require that administrators have a master’s degree.
Generally speaking, CNSA professionals need to have a working knowledge of:
Other necessary skills for a systems administrator may include:
Because network technology is constantly changing, administrators need to keep up with the latest developments. Many continue to take courses throughout their careers and attend IT conferences to keep up with the latest technology.
In addition, many companies require their network and computer systems administrators to be certified in the products they use. Certification programs are usually offered directly from vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers and function to validate the knowledge and use of best practices required of network and computer systems administrators. Microsoft and Cisco offer some of the most common certifications.
CNSA professionals are a central part of IT teams that support software functions, data transfers and network connectivity for computer systems. Employed by virtually all organizations, CNSA is an enduring career opportunity.
Michigan Technological University's College of Computing is the first college in Michigan fully dedicated to computing, and one of only a few nationwide. Michigan Tech computer network and system administration students learn to build and troubleshoot computer networks and manage enterprise systems effectively and securely.
Michigan Tech’s Bachelor of Science in Computer Network and System Administration program prepares you for some of today's most challenging and exciting career areas: computer network design, administration, and security.
Learn to design and implement advanced technologies. Gain experience with technology relevant to industry. Take hands-on labs for each of your technical courses—and enjoy 24/7 lab access. Plus, customize your degree with a concentration in cybersecurity, IT management, or network engineering.
Take advantage of highly competitive cooperative education (co-op) and internship opportunities during your time at Tech. You’ll gain essential industry experience in technical and non-technical areas related to the field. When you graduate, you’ll be well prepared with the skills and qualifications sought by today’s employers.
In your final year, you’ll complete either a Senior Design project or an Enterprise project and present your project at Design Expo—an annual competition that highlights hands-on, discovery-based learning at Michigan Tech. During the event, more than a thousand students in Enterprise and on Senior Design teams showcase their work and compete for awards. A panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, Michigan Tech staff and faculty members, and community members, critique the projects and determine the award winners.
Our CNSA graduates are in high demand for their ability to design, secure, and manage computer networks and enterprise IT systems in all sectors of the economy, including healthcare, retail, insurance, manufacturing, government, and research. 100% of Michigan Tech CNSA graduates land full-time jobs within six months of graduation.
Unsure if CNSA or Cybersecurity is right for you? Our bachelor’s programs in CNSA and Cybersecurity share a similar curriculum for the first year, so there’s time to discover your interests and talents before making a choice.
Earn a master's degree in just one additional year of study beyond your bachelor's through our Accelerated Master’s Program. CNSA students may choose between an MS in Cybersecurity or an MS in Health Informatics.
The Biden administration unveiled a regulatory proposal late Friday targeting water heaters, the latest in a string of energy efficiency actions cracking down on home appliances.
The Department of Energy (DOE) said its proposal would ultimately "accelerate deployment" of electric heat pump water heaters, save Americans billions of dollars and vastly reduce carbon emissions. If finalized, the proposed standards would force less energy efficient, but cheaper, water heaters off the market.
"Today’s actions — together with our industry partners and stakeholders — Improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
"This proposal reinforces the trajectory of consumer savings that forms the key pillar of Bidenomics and builds on the unprecedented actions already taken by this Administration to lower energy costs for working families across the nation," she continued.
BIDEN ADMIN MOVING FORWARD WITH LIGHT BULB BANS IN COMING WEEKS
Overall, the DOE projected the regulations, which are slated to go into effect in 2029, would save Americans about $198 billion while curbing emissions by 501 million metric tons over the next three decades. That's roughly the same carbon footprint as 63 million homes or half of all homes nationwide.
Under the rule, the federal government would require higher efficiency for heaters using heat pump technology or, in the case of gas-fired water heaters, to achieve efficiency gains through condensing technology. Non-condensing gas-fired water heaters, though, are far cheaper and smaller, meaning they come with lower installation costs.
According to the DOE, water heating accounts for 13% of annual residential energy use and consumer utility costs.
BIDEN ADMIN'S WAR ON HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES WILL CAUSE HIGHER PRICES, DIRTIER CLOTHES AND DISHES, EXPERTS WARN
In addition to water heaters, over the last several months, the DOE has unveiled new standards for a wide variety of other appliances including gas stoves, clothes washers, refrigerators and air conditioners. The agency's comment period on a separate dishwasher regulatory proposal concluded Tuesday.
According to the current federal Unified Agenda, a government-wide, semiannual list that highlights regulations agencies plan to propose or finalize within the next 12 months, the Biden administration is additionally moving forward with rules impacting dozens more appliances, including consumer furnaces, pool pumps, battery chargers, ceiling fans and dehumidifiers.
The Biden administration boasted in December that it had taken 110 actions on energy efficiency rules in 2022 alone as part of its climate agenda.
The DOE said Friday that, altogether, its appliance regulations will save Americans $570 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons over the next 30 years.
However, consumer groups and experts have criticized the administration over its aggressive energy efficiency campaign. They have argued the new regulations will reduce consumer choice and increase costs for Americans.
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"It's just spreading to more and more appliances. It seems that almost everything that plugs in or fires up around the house is either subject to a pending regulation or soon will be," Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, previously told Fox News Digital.
"Consumers aren't going to like any of it," he added. "These rules are almost always bad for consumers for the simple reason that they restrict consumer choice."
The likely future of power generation can be glimpsed in Germany, where in 2022 energy company Next Kraftwerke "passed the 10,000 megawatt mark of networked capacity" -- enough energy to serve about 5 million US homes.
Next Kraftwerke didn't accomplish this feat by burning fossil fuels, according to Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, but by pooling together the generation capabilities of "over 13,000 independent renewable energy plants -- including wind, photovoltaic, hydropower and bioenergy -- as well as the electricity consumers, prosumers and storage units in the network." Most of the energy, 60%, comes from solar.
This model is called a virtual power plant, which the German agency explains "uses intelligent controls to aggregate electricity from its members and distribute it flexibly, mimicking a central power plant. It's the energy equivalent of drawing processing power from a network of linked-up individual computers versus a central mainframe computer."
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VPPs have big implications across the world, including the US, because they allow the smallest energy producers -- such as the solar panels and backup batteries in your home and your neighbors' homes (and maybe even an electric vehicle battery) -- to provide power to an energy utility's customers, especially during high usage periods.
Essentially, VPPs could help prevent brownouts and blackouts, and potentially save everyone money. How? Read on to learn more.
The grid goes down if the supply of electricity doesn't meet its demand. That means the grid needs to ramp up supply to power every HVAC and television when everyone gets home from work at the same time.
To meet these peaks, utilities might have to buy energy at a premium on the open market, according to the nonprofit energy consulting firm Advanced Energy. Utilities might propose building a new power plant, like the over 1,000 so-called peaker plants in operation across the US -- according to the Clean Energy Group, a nonprofit that advocates for phasing out peaker plants as part of a larger push toward greater clean energy adoption. The plants run only intermittently and typically on fossil fuels.
Peaker plant owners are paid to generate electricity but are also paid to be available to utilities as needed. As a result, electricity from peaker plants is more expensive: A 2020 Peak Coalition report (PDF) found that peak electricity in New York City was 1,300% more expensive than the average cost of electricity in the city. (Peak electricity in New York City is also some of the most expensive in the country, the report says.)
Besides climate warming emissions, fossil fuel peaker plants also pollute the air with nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter that can harm the respiratory system and cause asthma. For these reasons and others, some utilities are trying out alternatives to meeting peak demand.
Let's first address the "virtual" in the virtual power plant: "What they do is combine a bunch of different renewable energy sources together -- wind, solar, hydro and usually some battery backup," said Joshua M. Pearce, a materials engineer who researches solar power systems at Western University in London, Ontario. "It doesn't matter where they are geographically, but combined, all together, they offer load-following capabilities. If you're a utility and you need X number of kilowatt-hours in this location at this time, this virtual power plant with a bunch of different things working together can provide you that power."
The technological advances that make this possible are more efficient inverters, smart meters and economical battery systems.
Pearce gives the example of an apartment building, where electricity use is constant because appliances such as refrigerators are always on. When people come home from work and start turning lights on, it creates a lot more demand for electricity.
"A power plant operator's job is to make sure the electricity is there when people need it," Pearce said. "If the plant is incapable of following the load, when you come in and turn on the lights, they start to flicker or there may be a brownout or blackout. What a virtual power plant does is make sure that when the load increases, the electricity supply increases to match that load."
The strength of a VPP is that if one source can't meet this load, like if it's cloudy in one area or the wind isn't strong, it can lean on other energy sources within its network.
VPPs can take different forms, but simple hypothetical examples might look like this.
Vermont utility Green Mountain Power operates a virtual power plant that's been a success. In 2017, the utility partnered with Tesla to subsidize Powerwall batteries for its customers. Customers got a more affordable source of backup electricity in case of a power outage. The utility got a source of stored power they could draw from during peak demand days. The program has changed over time. In the current iteration, 500 customers each year can lease two Powerwall batteries for 10 years at $55 a month or for a one-time $5,500 payment. (A Powerwall retails for $10,500 from Tesla.)
Green Mountain Power also operates a bring-your-own-device program. Customers can enroll a certain amount of energy from batteries for cash. For every kilowatt of energy storage enrolled, the utility will deliver a customer $850 if they allow it to be discharged for three hours; it's $950 for four hours. In locations with high need, they'll tack on another $100 (so that's $950 and $1,050, respectively). Customers agree to use the battery only for backing up their home in the case of a power outage.
Green Mountain Power says these payments are the highest of any utility in the US, so you might expect a bit less from your local utility. The programs have enrolled roughly 4,000 customers and about 18 megawatts of energy storage in small batteries, said Josh Castongua, the chief innovation officer and a vice president at Green Mountain Power. It also enrolls other smart devices and personal EV chargers so it can shift car charging away from peak hours.
According to the utility, it saved $3 million in energy peaks in 2020 thanks in part to its VPP efforts. Castonguay said that money reduces "rate pressure" for the utility, allowing it to keep rates lower than they would otherwise be.
According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average residential electricity rate in New England was 22.04 cents per kilowatt. In Vermont, it was 19.60 cents per kilowatt. Green Mountain Power's residential rate was 18.06 cents per kilowatt.
Nearly any energy generation source can be involved in a VPP. For example, a wind farm, solar farm, a hydroelectric plant and even individual homes with solar panels and battery storage can contribute energy to the VPP.
"You're doing the same thing that the big utility companies do for the whole grid but for your own micro grid," Pearce said. For example, "A university campus that has a bunch of buildings, all different kinds of crazy loads, might purposely pull off the main grid and provide all of its own power. They're usually doing that with a combination of solar, wind, a bit of battery and maybe a generator."
Virtual power plants are a fundamental shift in how the energy system operates. They can solve some issues that exist in the more traditional power-plant-to-consumer system.
The appeal of rooftop solar and backup batteries is not having to rely on your utility's primary means of generating electricity, such as a natural gas plant. Issues arise because everyone the utility serves is pulling from the same source. When you add multiple energy sources to the mix via a VPP, it strengthens the system because it increases the overall energy output. That theoretically means everyone gets the energy they need.
What causes blackouts and brownouts? When a utility doesn't have enough energy to meet demand. That leads to either a system failure or the utility having to throttle its customers' energy use to get its generation back to a stable level. A VPP can help avoid blackouts and brownouts, because the sources of energy generation are more diverse. If one source fails, like when the sun isn't shining, the utility can instead pull energy from a wind farm and batteries.
Renewables are a growing part of the American energy mix, but many utilities still rely on fossil fuels to generate electricity. Fossil fuels are expensive, especially compared to wind and solar. Adding more renewables to the energy mix via a VPP would help reduce energy costs for everyone served by the utility.
VPPs can be helpful to the system as a whole, but they limit what you can do with your own energy equipment. Here are some potential downsides.
Homeowners with backup batteries participating in VPPs have to relinquish control of their stored energy. During peak demand times, the VPP may drain all of the energy in the battery to feed the grid. That leaves the homeowner without a backup in case of a blackout, and repeatedly draining the battery could shorten its lifespan.
When you opt in to a VPP, you cede control of your battery system to the utility. That limits your options in terms of when you opt to use the battery versus when you pull from the grid. Some savvy homeowners may tap their batteries during peak energy demand, when electricity is expensive, then pull from the grid when prices go back down. Being part of a VPP will likely take away that option.
Energy utilities are frequent targets of hackers. If you opt in to a VPP, your system is now connected to the utility. That opens a distant possibility of hackers and bad actors having access to your system.
"Doing a virtual power plant is much more complicated than the conventional model," Pearce said. "It involves higher levels of software, smarter engineers and better planning."
For individual homeowners equipped with solar panels and batteries, joining a VPP does come with both advantages and sacrifices.
It'll depend on what you want to get out of being part of a VPP.
"Look at the economics of it," Pearce said. "In general, the utilities that are trying to operate virtual power plants are incentivizing their customers to join. It probably makes financial sense for you, but you might want to be a little bit careful, depending on say, giving complete control of the battery charging and discharging for your electric vehicle. In general, I think it's a good idea. It's better for the environment, better for people's economics, better for the overall electricity grid."
VPPs can also maximize the savings you get from smart thermostats and other smart energy devices by letting them work together.
"I do think it's a no-brainer if you have this kind of device," said Ben Hertz-Shargel, the global head of grid edge for the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. "When devices just do their own thing, they're not reaching their full potential."
The trade-off for enrolling in a VPP is usually in flexibility, Hertz-Shargel said. "I wouldn't call it a downside," he said. "It's just the other side of the equation."
Members of Green Mountain Power's VPP have to agree to only use their battery for backup power. They can't use it to take advantage of time-of-use rates or use energy gathered from a rooftop solar array at night. If you enroll with a smart thermostat, you agree to be a couple of degrees warmer on some days.
The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday visited a Dorchester housing complex slated to make the switch to cleaner energy to highlight it as one anecdote in the “national story” of how the United States is preparing to deal with effects of a changing climate.
Gov. Maura Healey, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and others joined EPA Administrator Michael Regan in Dorchester, where they showed off the community-based climate project. Markey said the projects at Franklin Field will “leverage public dollars to install energy-efficient appliances, cut energy bills, Improve quality of life for residents,” and represents “a new era of climate opportunity.”
“We are here today because we are taking local and state stories, and we’re telling a national story. We are facing a climate crisis, it will take all of us,” Regan said. He added, “This administration is trying to create a rising tide that doesn’t leave anyone behind. So we’re here in Boston today — yes, because of you, because of your advocacy, because of your leadership — but we’re really here to mine this story and export it to the rest of the nation and the rest of the world.”
The centerpiece of Wednesday’s event was the EPA’s $20 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, an idea that was long championed by Markey and was enacted through the federal Inflation Reduction Act. It is intended as a national financing network that could activate private capital for clean technology projects, creating jobs and lowering energy costs for American families along the way. The fund is especially focused on low-income and disadvantaged communities, which often bear the brunt of harmful pollution and see higher levels of related health detriments.
The federal fund includes money that Healey eyed in June when she announced the launch of a “green bank” that she hopes will attract private investment and federal money to pay for building retrofits and new construction of decarbonized buildings in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Community Climate Bank was started with $50 million from the Department of Environmental Protection, but the governor’s office said in June that the state climate bank would be positioned to compete for federal funding from the National Clean Investment Fund, which is part of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
“Our climate bank makes us eligible for these new federal funds and our affordable housing focus puts us in an exceptionally strong position to advance the environmental justice work that Senator Markey prioritized and that the EPA has prioritized,” Healey said. “And it’s a powerful example of how if we go all in and we work together, we are going to see unprecedented opportunities and returns for our state and the health and wellbeing of our people.”
The complex is planning to transition its gas-fired boiler plant to clean, energy-efficient heat pumps, and has already made upgrades to create climate-resilient and healthier housing, including new indoor cooling and heating systems and improved ventilation.
“We’re here because the dollars at the federal level, the policies and the opportunities at the state level — it all becomes real when, at the city level, we get to actually connect that to people’s daily lives,” Wu said. “And so we were here to take a walk around and to share and feel in the excitement that represents the Franklin Field community, and also to see some of the facilities improvements that are very much needed and will translate right away into generations of opportunity, health and more.”
The Biden administration’s top environmental official on Wednesday visited a Dorchester housing complex that’s slated to make the switch to cleaner energy to highlight it as one anecdote in the “national story” of how the United States is preparing to deal with effects of a changing climate.
Gov. Maura Healey; U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, and others joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan at the news conference, where they showed off the community-based climate project.
Markey said the projects at Franklin Field will “leverage public dollars to install energy-efficient appliances, cut energy bills, Improve quality of life for residents,” and represents “a new era of climate opportunity.”
“We are here today because we are taking local and state stories, and we’re telling a national story. We are facing a climate crisis, it will take all of us,” Regan said.
The White House is “trying to create a rising tide that doesn’t leave anyone behind,” he continued. “So we’re here in Boston today -- yes, because of you, because of your advocacy, because of your leadership -- but we’re really here to mine this story and export it to the rest of the nation and the rest of the world.”
The centerpiece of Wednesday’s event was the EPA’s $20 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, an idea that Markey has long championed, and was enacted through the federal Inflation Reduction Act.
It is intended as a national financing network that could activate private capital for clean technology projects, creating jobs and lowering energy costs for American families along the way.
The fund is especially focused on low-income and disadvantaged communities, which often bear the brunt of harmful pollution and see higher levels of related health detriments.
The federal fund includes money that Healey eyed in June when she announced the launch of a “green bank” that she hopes will attract private investment and federal money to pay for building retrofits and new construction of decarbonized buildings in Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Community Climate Bank was started with $50 million from the Department of Environmental Protection.
But the governor’s office said in June that the state climate bank would be positioned to compete for federal funding from the National Clean Investment Fund, which is part of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.
“Our climate bank makes us eligible for these new federal funds and our affordable housing focus puts us in an exceptionally strong position to advance the environmental justice work that Senator Markey prioritized and that the EPA has prioritized,” Healey said Wednesday.
“And it’s a powerful example of how if we go all in and we work together, we are going to see unprecedented opportunities and returns for our state and the health and wellbeing of our people,” Healey said.
The governor said in June that the climate bank “will be our financial engine for moving forward on our climate goals, relieving the pressure of high housing costs, and creating good jobs and healthier communities.”
The Healey administration said it expects to provide low-cost capital and “innovative deal structures” to promote the integration of clean energy and efficient technology into affordable housing development, and mortgage products for home improvements.
The program aims to pick up the pace on building decarbonization projects by lending directly to building owners and by “attracting and de-risking” loans or investments from private lenders.
Before Wednesday’s press conference, Healey, Markey, Regan, Wu and others toured the clean energy and cost-saving upgrades planned for the Franklin Field community in Dorchester, which Markey’s office said “serve as an example of how investments in clean technology projects -- investments that will be supercharged by the national clean financing network -- can Improve lives across the Commonwealth and the country.”
The complex is planning to transition its gas-fired boiler plant to clean, energy-efficient heat pumps, and has already made upgrades to create climate-resilient and healthier housing, including new indoor cooling and heating systems and improved ventilation.
“We’re here because the dollars at the federal level, the policies and the opportunities at the state level -- it all becomes real when, at the city level, we get to actually connect that to people’s daily lives,” Wu said.
“And so we were here to take a walk around and to share and feel in the excitement that represents the Franklin Field community, and also to see some of the facilities improvements that are very much needed and will translate right away into generations of opportunity, health and more,” Wu said.