Dairy farm adds wind power to its energy portfolio

BRIDPORT — A wind turbine is up and running at the Audets’ Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, the second in Addison County that was constructed especially for the Green Mountain Power’s Wind Power Program. The turbine, which sits atop a 121-foot-tall tower just off Route 22A, generates around 165,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, about enough to power 23 homes. It also will save around 191,807 lbs. of carbon emissions annually.
“We’ve made a big commitment to renewable energy,” said family spokeswoman Marie Audet. The dairy farm was the first involved in GMP’s Cow Power program, which enlists farmers to convert manure into electricity using on-farm anaerobic digesters.
“We are delighted to be the host site and do what we can do for Bridport energy,” Audet added.
GMP has in recent years stepped up its investment in wind energy throughout Vermont. The company has placed 21 wind turbines throughout the Northeast Kingdom and set up a wind field in Searsburg. The turbines on Lowell Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom continue to be a source of controversy, as opponents say the turbines inflict environmental damage and disturb the landscape.
In Addison County, the process has been less controversial. The first GMP Wind Power site was erected at the Northlands Job Corps in Vergennes without incident at the end of 2011, and the Audets say that they received positive feedback from neighbors when they sent out a letter to notify nearby landowners of the possibility of a wind turbine.
“The best way to learn about (wind power) is to put a windmill up,” Audet said.
GMP project manager Don Lorraine said that since the company doesn’t own prime real estate to place its wind turbines, it relies on its customers to host the wind turbines themselves. The Audets were asked to be a host site in part because of their history as the pioneer farm involved in the Cow Power program.
“We knew the farm was very progressive with energy,” Lorraine said.
Blue Spruce Farm is also located on what Lorraine called an “extremely good wind corridor,” with higher-than-average winds sweeping in from Lake Champlain. The farm is also located near three-phase power lines (utility poles with three lines instead of one), which are required to power the wind turbine.
“You want to make sure it’s a good environment,” Lorraine said.
Audet said that Blue Spruce Farm would host an open house in the near future, so that members of the Addison County community would have an excuse to come and see the wind turbine and the Cow Power apparatuses. 

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