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CSJ Solar Farm begins generating clean energy

RUTLAND, Vt. – Just months after announcing plans to contribute to Green Mountain Power’s Rutland Solar Capital initiative, the College of St. Joseph is helping create clean energy on its gymnasium roof.

GMP and CSJ officials today announced the completion one of the largest rooftop projects in GMP’s service territory, an array that could become a model for future rooftop development.  The 98-kilowatt project, known as the College of St. Joseph Solar Farm, has a perfect southern exposure.

“We are thrilled to be able to put our gymnasium rooftop to good use, generating clean, renewable energy and contributing to the Rutland Solar Capital initiative,” CSJ President Rich Lloyd said.  “It will serve as a physical symbol of the connection we are making to the GMP Energy Innovation Center and will serve as an educational tool for our students and visitors.”

GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said she was especially pleased with the project because it makes use of otherwise unproductive space for the benefit of GMP customers.

“Like the Creek Path Solar Farm, which was built on a brownfield, and the Stafford Hill Solar Farm, which will be built on a dormant landfill, the project represents a value-added use of the space,” Powell said.  “I expect that this will be one of many rooftop projects built by the company and individual customers in the months and years ahead.”

GMP will own and maintain the project, which was built by Positive Energy in Poultney.  Under a 25-year lease with CSJ, GMP will credit the college for 10 percent of the project’s output. The remaining energy will go onto the electric grid and will be consumed by local GMP customers.

“Rooftop projects can be really challenging, but this one went very smoothly, and we hope it will be a model for other projects,” said Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for energy innovation and customer service.  “While there are plenty of big rooftops available, the roof has to be in really good condition, with a long life expectancy, and it has to have a southern exposure to make a solar project appropriate.”

Students and the public can learn more about the project and watch its energy production at www.solrenview.com/SolrenView/mainFr.php?siteId=2231.

“Working with CSJ and GMP on this project was a real pleasure, and made for a very smooth installation,” said Khanti Munro, vice president of operations at Positive Energy.  “This model project exemplifies the potential of strong local partnerships, and the significant value, both educational and economic, that solar projects bring to the Rutland region. As a small solar business, this is exactly what we need to grow our work force.”

The project name, tied to the college itself, follows GMP’s practice of naming its Rutland solar farms after positive attributes of the community.

CSJ is one of four local colleges, including Castleton College, Community College of Vermont and Green Mountain College, which signed a collaboration agreement with GMP last year.  The agreement includes a host of projects and programs, including a monthly college lecture series at GMP’s Energy Innovation Center, job shadowing and internship opportunities, and plans for more renewable projects.

“We will continue to look for ways to collaborate with GMP on projects and programs that benefit the community, the college and our students,” Lloyd said.

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