Vermont approves new wind-power contracts for two largest utilities

Source: Green Mountain Power

The Vermont Public Service Board has approved new wind-power contracts for Vermont's two largest utilities. 

"We believe these contracts will provide an excellent blend of environmental benefits and relatively low-cost renewable energy," CVPS President Bob Young and GMP President Mary Powell said in a joint statement today. "These contracts are in keeping with our historic commitment to green energy, and they extend our portfolios of renewables." 

The PSB approved contracts between the utilities and Granite Reliable Wind, a 99-megawatt project in Coos County, New Hampshire. The project will include 33 three-megawatt wind towers. 

CVPS will purchase 30.3 percent of the output and GMP will purchase 25 percent of the output of the Granite Reliable Wind project for 20 years starting April 1, 2012. The project is expected to fulfill about 4 percent of each utility's annual energy needs. 

The contracts resulted from a request for proposals. The companies also made smaller purchases as a result of the RFP, but only the Granite Reliable project required PSB review.
In its orders approving the contracts, the PSB said the power purchase agreements "will provide a long-term, new reliable power source at prices that are relatively stable and compare favorably to the prices of other new renewable alternatives that are presently available." 

"The project represented the best of the available premium renewable project proposals under the RFP in terms of meeting new renewable energy standards under state law," the board said. 

The PSB sealed documents that disclose the price of the contracts to protect the utilities' bargaining position in ongoing negotiations with other power producers. The utilities have signed a preliminary agreement for a new contract with Hydro-Quebec, but continue to seek other power contracts. 

CVPS was the first utility in the world to put wind energy onto an electric grid in 1941, and GMP received national acclaim for its leadership for developing wind generation in cold climates when it built the state's only existing wind farm, in Searsburg, in 1997. 

"This purchase helps us achieve our energy vision that we launched two years ago of a power supply for our customers that is low cost, low carbon and reliable," said Powell. 

"We remain committed to soundly sited wind energy and believe it can play an important role in Vermont's energy future," Young said. 

The utilities said that among the factors that they considered in choosing the Granite Reliable purchase are price, price volatility, fuel diversity, environmental attributes, public preferences voiced during the state's public outreach process and reliability. The RFP was distributed to all New England Power Pool participants, power suppliers and developers. More than 1,800 megawatts of energy was bid into the process.

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