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GMP Upgrades and Doubles Hydro Generation at Otter Creek Hydro Plant in Proctor

Photo: Dotty Schnure

Photo: Dotty Schnure

Project adds significant low cost, renewable energy for Vermonters

Green Mountain Power recently completed an improvement project to its 110-year-old hydro plant on the Otter Creek in Proctor that will mean more renewable, low-cost hydro power for GMP customers. The added capacity makes this plant the largest of Green Mountain Power’s fleet of 32 Vermont hydro plants.

“Our Vermont hydro plants are the lowest cost source of electricity in our energy mix and we are pleased to be able to deliver on our promise of more renewable energy for customers,” said Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power. “Our customers and the environment benefit when we can produce this kind of clean, local and low cost power. This hydro expansion ties into our vision as Vermont’s energy company of the future as we transform the 100-year-old grid of the past to one where more power is generated closer to home and Vermonters are using innovative products and services to be more comfortable, save money and use less energy.”

Hydro is a major part of GMP’s energy portfolio with 42% of the power GMP customers receive coming from renewable hydroelectricity.

The plant, formerly owned by Vermont Marble, needed significant repairs when it was acquired by GMP in August 2011. Four of the five turbines were not functional, so GMP completely replaced three turbines and rebuilt another. The four turbines are now at modern levels of efficiency, meaning that they were in the range of 92.4% to 93.4% efficient, much improved from early 20th century technology. Though GMP has no records of what the efficiency once was, it was very likely in the range of 80% to 85% for the older turbines.

With the renovations, the plant now has 10 megawatts of generating capacity and is expected to produce an estimated 38 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) a year, compared to the 19 million kWh it recently generated prior to the upgrade. That’s enough to energy to power about 5,300 homes.

The renovation began in 2012 with construction of a bridge to access the hydro plant. The only access had been a walkway via a series of ramps and stairs to the station for personnel and an old rail-lift system on the hill between the plant and the Marble Museum. The $15 million redevelopment project employed local, regional and specialty contractors, creating economic benefit to the region throughout construction. GMP took great care to protect the historic marble powerhouse structure, which was built in 1905.

“We are really pleased with the work GMP did to upgrade the historic Proctor hydro plant and thank them for their commitment to our town and to preserving this important local asset,” said Bill Champine, chair of the Proctor Selectboard. “It is a big improvement that will benefit the town as well as GMP customers and we look forward to the added improvements to recreation areas that will be done in 2016. This will help the town’s prosperity plan that we have been working on for more than a year.”

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