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GMP to seek approval for wind turbine at Northlands

VERGENNES — Green Mountain Power has applied to the Vermont Public Service Board for permission to install a wind turbine on the northeast corner of the Northlands Job Corps campus, Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley told aldermen on Sept. 13.
GMP will ask the PSB for a Certificate of Public Good for a turbine that will stand about 120 feet tall, Hawley said, with rotor blades about 65 feet long.
It would be installed on state-owned land that is now part of the Northlands campus, which is rented by the U.S. Department of Labor for the federal job-training program.
The nearest homes will be on High Street, Hawley said, about an eighth of a mile away, or about the length of two football fields.
The turbine would supply power to Northlands, with any extra electricity going back into the electricity grid. Because it is a net-metering proposal, the PSB would have jurisdiction over the project, not the city of Vergennes.
The PSB hearing process does allow for public comment on the location, aesthetics and neighborhood impact of net-metering projects. Hawley said on Thursday he did not know when hearings had been scheduled, and a search of the PSB website for hearing dates was unsuccessful.
STREET LIGHTS
Hawley also told aldermen at their meeting last week that he and GMP are making progress on an inventory of the city’s 100-watt mercury vapor streetlights, which are due to be replaced before the end of this year with LED units.
Vergennes leases its more than 200 streetlights from GMP, at a cost in the 2010-2011 fiscal year of $32,600. That lease payment covers the power to run the lights, maintenance and GMP’s long-term cost of ownership of the fixtures, Hawley said.
Because the LED lights will use less power and last longer, Hawley said on Thursday the city’s annual payment is expected to drop by about $11,000 once all the lights are replaced.
Four of the new lights are already in place: one across from City Hall, one in front of Riverside Apartments on Main Street, one at 87 Main St., and one at the West Street entrance to Goodrich Corp.
Hawley said the new fixtures will cast more light downward, but will comply with regulations to protect views of the night sky.
Before the project begins, Hawley said he and GMP official Bruce Bushey will finish an accurate count of the lights. Hawley said there are some discrepancies: for example, there are four floodlights the city is being billed for that neither he nor Bushey can find, while some streetlights also appear to be on private property.
Hawley said the inventory will ensure fair billing for both GMP and the city.
“When we get done, it will be absolutely accurate,” he said.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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