By George Harvey
During this winter’s cold snaps, as the grid power system struggled and wholesale prices went as high as 60¢/kWh, the turbines at Kingdom Community Wind kept on turning out inexpensive power for Vermonters. The wind farm, which began generating power in November or 2012, has 21 turbines rated at 3 MW each. They produce 186,000 MWh per year, sufficient power for 24,000 homes.
Kingdom Community Wind produces more than just electricity. Green Mountain Power is committed to sharing some of the economic benefit from the wind farm with local communities through a Good Neighbor Fund. The fund provided a total of $126,000 to five local communities, Albany, Eden, Craftsbury, Westfield, and Irasburg, all of which are within five miles of the site. The fund will be distributed each year for the first ten years of the wind farm’s operations.
Other news on Kingdom Community Wind includes results of testing for sound. As part of comprehensive, ongoing sound monitoring, independent testers take data at four sites near the wind farm, much closer than any neighbor. The site is not permitted to produce sounds louder than 45 decibels as measured at the any of the testing sites. That is about as loud as a library.
The monitoring has to be done over a period of time long enough to provide data under all conditions. The recent tests were done over a period of 1343 hours of continuous monitoring in November and December. The results were that the sound was not found to exceed limits.
We should bear in mind that one important benefit of local power sources, including use of local fuel for those sources that use fuel, is that it keeps the money in the local economy. When the power costs to the utilities reach 60¢/kWh, not only do utilities such as Green Mountain Power lose over 40¢/kWh on each kilowatt-hour they sell to retail customers, but most of that money leaves the state. Every installation like Kingdom Community Wind makes the local economy more robust and more resilient.