RUTLAND, Vt. – The College of St. Joseph, which last week signed an agreement with Green Mountain Power and three other colleges to work together on socio-economic issues, education and renewable energy, will host GMP’s first rooftop solar farm in the city of Rutland.
The project, known as the College of St. Joseph Solar Farm, will be built on the CSJ gymnasium roof, which has a perfect southern exposure and room for 75 kilowatts of solar panels.
“The project will provide educational benefits to our students, but equally important, it will help the college administration learn more about solar and how we can use renewable energy to reduce our environmental impact,” College of St. Joseph President Rich Lloyd said. “It is also a meaningful first link with GMP, part of our broader effort to connect to GMP’s Energy Innovation Center, Solar Capital effort in Rutland, and economic development in the region.”
GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said Lloyd and the CSJ board of directors were looking well beyond the initial project. “We see CSJ and the other local colleges as ideal partners, because they are teaching the people who will live with the environmental and energy choices we make today,” Powell said. “Their leadership will help Vermont make a dramatic shift toward low-carbon energy, and help train the industry’s future workforce.”
GMP, which will own and maintain the project, will put it out to bid this month and apply for a state permit right away. Under a 25-year lease agreement with CSJ, GMP will credit the college for 10 percent of the project’s output. The remaining energy will go onto the local electric grid and will be consumed by local GMP customers.
The project will help GMP fulfill its promise to make Rutland the Solar Capital of New England, with the highest solar capacity per capita of any city in the region, and it will be GMP’s first rooftop project.
“We are excited to add yet another type of solar project to the Solar Capital campaign,” said Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation. “We want to build a lot more rooftop solar over time, so it will be nice to get the first one up and learn from the process.”
GMP already operates the Creek Path Solar Farm on a former brownfield, purchased an interest in the solar farm on the former Poor Farm off Woodstock Avenue, is in the planning stages for the Stafford Hill Solar Farm on a former city landfill, and recently filed for a state permit for the Solar Center at Rutland Regional, a 150-kilowatt project at the hospital. GMP continues to talk with numerous solar developers, non-profits and local businesses about power purchase agreements and other potential projects in the city.
“We are well ahead of where we thought we’d be at this point,” Powell said. “We have numerous projects in various stages of negotiation, and we are growing more confident every day that we will reach our goal much quicker than we initially planned.”
Pending approval by the Public Service Board, GMP expects to build the College of St. Joseph Solar Farm early this fall. “We hope to have the project on-line early in the fall semester,” Lloyd said.
The project name, tied to the college itself, follows GMP’s practice of naming its Rutland solar farms after positive attributes of the community.