Rutland Herald: GMP announces first ‘solar city’ project

Aug 03, 2012 No Comments by

Reposted from Rutland Herald.

 

Green Mountain Power intends a planned solar generation facility on Cleveland Avenue to be the first of many.

The utility continued to follow through on the pledges made prior to its merger with Central Vermont Public Service Corp. It announced on Thursday the first of its “solar city” projects — installing 150 kilowatts worth of collectors in a former brownfields site it uses for storage.

 

“Before CV even existed, this was owned by a predecessor company,” Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation, said Thursday. “In the old days, they would compress coal to make gas that would then be burned to light street– lights.”

 

As Costello looked over the property Thursday, it was largely cracked blacktop surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. For the last 30-plus years, he said, it had been used mainly for storage of poles, wires and an old office trailer. The site was contaminated in its early use; the utility started a cleanup plan last year and completed it this spring.

 

“There’s not a lot of uses that are great for it and we think solar is perfect,” Costello said.

 

GMP will put the project out to bid and hopes to have approval from the state Public Service Board in time to begin construction this fall. The best cost estimate Costello would provide for the project was “in the hundreds of thousands.”

 

He said the solar collectors would, operating at peak, supply enough power for 150 households.

 

The solar city initiative aims to give Rutland the most per-capita solar generation of any city in the Northeast. Costello said that would require five to six megawatts of capacity.

 

“We can’t built all that on our own,” Costello said. “What we want to be, ultimately, is the catalyst. We don’t want to be the developer of every project, but we want to help others develop projects.”

 

Costello said Green Mountain Power is working to identify other potential sites and expects to see projects developed through public-private partnerships, collaborations with nonprofit groups, and developers working on their own. He also said the company is talking to solar developers about coming to Rutland.

 

Mayor Christopher Louras said the city is also working with developers on a number of potential sites.

 

“They’re looking at big ones and small ones,” he said.

 

Louras said sites that show promise include the former city landfill off Gleason Road and the northern portion of the former poor farm off Woodstock Avenue, where another proposed solar project was recently approved by the state.

 

Louras also said the rooftops of city schools could hold solar panels, an option Costello said could see broad use.

 

“There’s a lot of big roofs in Rutland,” Costello said. “A lot of places you could put significant solar projects.”

 

gordon.dritschilo@ rutlandherald.com

 

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