GMP builds solar project in Westminster

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(Host) Green Mountain Power has built the second largest solar project in the state.

The sun now powers its regional office and garage in Westminster.

VPR’s Ross Sneyd has more.

(Sneyd) Three-hundred solar panels reflect the sky  and soak up the sun’s energy outside the GMP office.

The panels, lined up in rows, generate 58 kilowatts of electricity to keep the lights and computers on inside.

Spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure says the building was intended to give Green Mountain a place to test how well solar generation works.

(Schnure) “We designed the solar panels to provide about two-thirds of the electricity used. And that was so as new technologies and efficiencies came along, we would be able also to take advantage of those. As it turns out the building is more efficient than we expected. In our first year of operation, we used less electricity than we anticipated. So as it turns out the solar panels should provide about 80 percent of the electricity that that building will use.”

(Sneyd) Green Mountain Power worked with groSolar of White River Junction on the project.

The utility has positioned itself in recent years as an advocate for green, renewable energy. But Schnure says the company needs to gain experience with how well solar works before it can expect customers to convert.

(Schnure) “We think that solar’s going to play a very important role in the energy future for our customers. So it’s important that we use it, as well, so we can become familiar with it and that we use it as part of our operations. We’ve installed solar panels here at our corporate headquarters in Colchester that power two plug-in hybrid vehicles.”

(Sneyd) Some of Green Mountain’s customers have also turned to solar energy. GMP pays those customers a premium if they have any excess solar power to sell back to the utility.

For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.

(Host) The largest solar project in Vermont is on top of the National Life building in Montpelier.


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