WIND POWER: Prison in line for turbine

Newton Road plan needs state permit

Elodie Reed

By Elodie Reed

Staff Writer

Just
The Facts

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We get a certain percentage of our energy costs rebated.

- Dave Burley, Vt. Facilities & Operations

ST. ALBANS TOWN — With the way the wind’s blowing, it looks like there could be a turbine at the Northwest State Correctional Facility.

The Lower Newton Road property may have a 100-kilowatt turbine installed by Green Mountain Power as soon as the fall. The unit would come with a 121-foot tower and a rotor with a nearly 79-foot diameter. For comparison, the wind turbines in Georgia sit atop 262-foot towers.

Dotty Schnure, the corporate spokesperson for GMP, said on Monday that the local electricity utility is still in the planning process for the turbine, but hopes to have it up and running by autumn 2014.

“We’re really just doing the preliminary work,” Schnure said.  She added that the turbine would be the third to be installed in Franklin County by GMP.

The project has been in the works for about a year, according to Dave Burley, regional director for Facilities and Operations for Vermont. Burley said by phone on Tuesday that GMP approached the state about the turbine, and the state agreed.

When asked why the state wanted the turbine on the Swanton property, Burley said, “Well, it’s windy.”

Burley added that the state also would like to save money on energy costs. “We get a certain percentage of our energy costs rebated.”

Burley said that he hoped the turbine project could be put up soon.

GMP must complete the approval process before it can install the turbine, namely qualifying for a Certificate of Public Good from the Vermont Public Service Board. The certificate requires various studies, analyses and proposals on behalf of GMP, though it does not include a public hearing because of the turbine’s relatively small size, according to Schnure,

The turbines do have to pass certain requirements for sound and shadow flicker, and are continually monitored for those effects, said Schnure.

“These are turbines that are designed for community use,” she added. Schnure compared the 100-kilowatt turbines to the 2.5-megawatt, or 2500-kilowatt, large-scale turbines at Georgia Mountain Community Wind, which were completed in December 2012.

The smaller turbines usually power about 25 homes per year, according to the American Wind Energy Association website. The larger turbines power 4,200 homes per year, according to Georgia Mountain’s website.

“It’s quite different scale,” Schnure said.