"We are extremely excited to start construction on this important local, renewable energy project," said Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power. "In addition to producing clean and reliable power for our customers and VEC members, Kingdom Community Wind is the most affordable new renewable energy available."
Kingdom Community Wind is the most significant renewable generation development in Vermont and it will provide a boost to the local and Vermont economy. The project has already employed Vermonters and Vermont firms in the pre-construction phase of the project. More than 90 different Vermont firms and vendors have participated in the project to date, with more than $4 million already invested in those companies. In the coming weeks, contractors, including Vermont-based contractors like J.A. McDonald of Lyndon Center and Bates & Murray of Barre, will be adding additional local employees to their existing Vermont employee base to work on Kingdom Community Wind.
"This is a local energy project built by Vermonters, for Vermonters," said Powell. "Through tax payments to the town of Lowell, the state education fund, the Good Neighbor Fund for surrounding towns and the economic activity created by the project’s construction, as well as competitively priced energy for many years to come, this project is a true win-win for all involved. We are grateful for the support we have received from the community."
Construction will consist of two affiliated projects. The first being the construction of the turbines, which will be complete and running by the end of 2012. The second includes upgrades to VEC’s transmission system between Lowell and Jay. VEC sought the upgrades as part of its long term capital plan, but through a partnership with GMP is now able to move more quickly on a more robust upgrade, while limiting the costs to its members.
"Our 40 year old transmission system between Lowell and Jay needed to be upgraded to ensure safety and reliability," said David Hallquist, CEO of the Vermont Electric Coop. "Our members have also told us that they want clean, local and affordable electricity. Our partnership with GMP on this renewable wind power project will help us meet those requests in a way that keeps rates as low as possible."
In July, VEC members voted to support the transmission system upgrades, with nearly 80 percent in favor. The Kingdom Community Wind project has also been supported at the ballot box by Lowell voters during a 2010 Town Meeting Day ballot when three in four Lowell voters approved of the wind farm project.
Kingdom Community Wind received a certificate of public good (CPG) from the Vermont Public Service Board in late May. GMP has now met all the pre-construction conditions in the CPG and received all of the permits required to begin construction, including permits related to protecting water quality that were issued late August.
"We are committed to the highest environmental standards," said Powell. "After all, a major reason for building a renewable wind project is to reduce carbon emissions and protect our natural environment. That is why it is so important that we maintain a strong environmental ethic in every aspect of Kingdom Community Wind."
Green Mountain Power’s environmental efforts are among the most extensive for such a project in Vermont. For example, for the first time for either wind or ski areas, there will be biological monitoring of streams during and following construction. GMP has also voluntarily collected data about the water chemistry of all the streams around the project to understand and protect future water quality.
According to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR), "The monitoring program imposed on GMP to protect high quality waters is more restrictive than any program required of any Vermont ski area to date." In addition, GMP made an extraordinary effort in the design to avoid stream and wetland impacts.
"In my 25 years of working on water quality issues in Vermont, GMP has by far done more with the Kingdom Wind project than any other development project to provide a comprehensive and well-planned framework, including design, implementation, monitoring, and reporting to assure that water quality is protected," said Jeff Nelson, Director of Environmental Services for VHB, who has worked as a consultant for GMP on water resources planning and permitting for the project since the outset.
Green Mountain Power has been working toward the development of KCW for more than three years. All aspects of the project, from environmental to economic impacts, have been studied extensively and were subject to regulatory and public oversight. As construction on KCW moves ahead, GMP remains committed to being fully open and transparent about the project and its progress.
With construction beginning, GMP is on schedule to ensure that KCW is operating by the end of 2012. In doing so, customers will benefit directly because the project will qualify for about $47 million in federal production tax credit that go entirely to lowering the cost of energy for GMP customers and VEC members.
Green Mountain Power generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in Vermont and is a leader in wind energy and solar power generation. It serves more than 96,000 customers.