Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Two Utilities Are Stowe-ing Away Impressive Solar

Progress in Lamoille County, Vermont

Hyde Park solar array, developed by Encore Renewables, based in Burlington, Vermont. Photos courtesy of Encore Renewables.

Hyde Park solar array, developed by Encore Renewables, based in Burlington, Vermont. Photos courtesy of Encore Renewables.

By Green Energy Times Staff

A lot has been going on in Lamoille County, Vermont. The Electric Departments of Stowe and Hyde Park have both commissioned solar arrays, each providing one megawatt AC capacity. Governor Peter Shumlin joined with state and local leaders to celebrate the event.

Both arrays were developed by Encore Renewable Energy, which was responsible for coordinating and managing all aspects of the projects. Encore, based in Burlington, Vermont, attended to siting, design, permitting, financing, construction, and commissioning activities associated with each project. The actual construction was performed by Namaste Solar of Boulder, Colorado, who utilized a number of locally based electrical and site civil contractors. Namaste was chosen under a competitive procurement processes overseen by Encore, and the concurrent construction of the two projects allowed for significant cost savings as compared to having each project constructed independently of each other.

 Stowe solar array

Stowe solar array

Project financing came from the federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program issued by the US Treasury and facilitated by the Vermont Economic Development Authority and Union Bank. In both cases, the arrays provide power at costs well below those of solar power through power purchase agreements with third parties for similarly sized projects.

Both Hyde Park and Stowe have their own electric departments, which function as small, local utilities. The Stowe project is sited at a gravel pit owned by the Town of Stowe in an area no longer used for gravel extraction. Such land has very few good uses and siting a solar array on it is a particularly attractive way to provide value to the Town from an otherwise underutilized property. The Hyde Park project is sited next to the largest commercial customer within the municipal electric service territory.

Stowe’s array is capable of supplying 2.2% of the town’s electric needs, enough for about 229 local households, according to the Stowe Electric Department. The array in Hyde Park is the same size, but will supply 14% of the electrical needs of the smaller community. The arrays will help both the towns and the state of Vermont move toward elimination of fossil fuel use and provide mitigation from mandatory compliance payments required under Vermont’s recently enacted Renewable Energy Standard.

Stowe has done more to eliminate use of fossil fuels than just setting up a solar array. The town’s electric utility has installed ten electric charging stations at as many locations in the town. There are nine level 2 stations and one, at the Alchemist Brewery, which is level 3 and can charge a car in 30 minutes or less. All stations are available to the public 24 hours per day. They are as follows:

  • Green Mt. Inn, 2 Park Place
  • Spruce Peak, 206 Spruce Peak Road

  • Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa, 1208 Cape Cod Road

  • Stowe High School – 413 Barrows Road

  • Stowe Kitchen and Bath – 1813 Mountain Road

  • Stowe Rec. Path – Rec. Path parking lot in Village

  • Stowe Village – 2 Park Place

  • Sun and Ski Inn and Suites – 1613 Mountain Road

  • Town and Country Resort – 876 Mountain Road

  • Trapps Brewery – 1333 Luce Hill

Jen Kimmich, owner of the Alchemist Brewery, commented on the charging station at her business. “All of us here at The Alchemist are thrilled to have an electric vehicle fast charger on our property. We are grateful the Stowe Electric Department provided us with this opportunity. This is not only a great resource for our visitors and community members, but also an incredible incentive for our employees, as we all focus on decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels.”

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