COLCHESTER, VT — (MARKET WIRE) — 06/01/2011 — Green Mountain Power today received resounding support from Vermont regulators to build a 63 megawatt wind facility in Lowell, Vermont. After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence and expert testimony from 50 witnesses, the Vermont Public Service Board agreed that building Kingdom Community Wind will provide stably-priced, cost effective electricity to Vermonters and is in the public good.
The project will consist of 21 turbines on Lowell Mountain, and will generate enough electricity for more than 20,000 homes. It will also provide an economic boost to the Northeast Kingdom communities near the project resulting from new jobs and economic activity during the construction phase, as well as ongoing benefits that include significant property tax payments to the Town of Lowell, tax payments to the state education fund and a Good Neighbor Fund to support five surrounding communities.
“Kingdom Community Wind will produce the lowest-cost new renewable energy for our customers,” said Mary Powell, president and chief executive officer of Green Mountain Power. “This project will bring economic benefits to electric consumers, as well as to the northeast region of Vermont, and we are pleased that the Board agreed.”
“Vermonters have made clear that renewable electricity — and, in particular, wind power — must play an integral role in our energy future. This cost-effective, locally-produced carbon-free power source is a key part of meeting Vermont’s goals for new renewable energy,” Powell continued.
In its ruling, the PSB said, “We also find that the proposed project will provide an economic benefit to the State of Vermont in the form of jobs and tax revenues, and, because it will not be merchant-owned, but would rather be the first large-scale generation facility proposed by one of Vermont’s investor-owned regulated utilities since the Searsburg wind project was approved in 1996, it will also provide GMP and VEC with a long-term source of stably priced power. These economic benefits, coupled with the fact that the addition of a renewable source of power in the region is consistent with the state’s legislated policy goals, have led us to conclude that we should approve the proposed project.”
Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative are working together on the project to provide customers of the two distribution utilities stably priced electricity. VEC members will benefit from power generated from Kingdom Community Wind, as well as from major upgrades to transmission infrastructure.
David Hallquist, chief executive officer of Vermont Electric Cooperative, said, “This will be the most significant renewable energy project built in Vermont since the 50 MW McNeil wood generating plant was built in the 1980s. Our partnership with GMP is in our members’ best interest as it brings them stably priced power from a project that does not pollute. It also includes major upgrades to our electric infrastructure that we need to do to improve the reliability of the transmission lines.”
Liz Miller, Commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said, “Kingdom Wind represents an important step toward a more secure and renewable energy future. We appreciate the Board’s approval of this project because it will provide a cost-effective way to help meet state goals of producing renewable energy for Vermonters right here in Vermont.”
“From the start, Green Mountain Power wanted to ensure the local community and region would benefit from this project,” said Ms. Powell. “That’s why we partnered with VEC, why we proposed a ground breaking approach in Vermont with the Good Neighbor Fund to share economic benefits with surrounding towns.”
Construction of the wind facility is expected to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs and will be a major economic infusion for the Northeast Kingdom. The investment in the project is approximately $150 million.
Green Mountain Power plans to complete construction by December 2012 so that its customers and VEC members will benefit from more than $40 million in federal production tax credits. Because this is a utility-owned project, the tax credits flow through to customers, lowering the cost they pay for the power.
The PSB decision includes numerous conditions that Green Mountain Power will be required to meet, such as obtaining required outstanding stormwater permits and meeting PSB sound standards. The Company intends to work with the Board, the Department and the parties to meet all conditions necessary to complete the project.
Community support was critical for this project to move forward and it has been well received by the Lowell community, where 75 percent of voters at a heavily attended March 2010 Town Meeting voted to support the project.
The Kingdom Community Wind project will be Green Mountain Power’s second wind plant. The Company built a six-megawatt wind plant in Searsburg, Vermont, in 1997, which continues to generate cost-effective energy for Green Mountain Power customers. Green Mountain Power was recognized nationally for its leadership in researching and developing wind generation in cold climates.