Blue Spruce Farm’s 100kW wind turbine now online

BRIDPORT — As dairy farms attempt to maximize their assets, one dairy in Addison County has found a way to put some new “energy” into its business.
Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, the first dairy farm in Vermont to put power from cow manure on the electric grid, is now capturing energy from the wind as well. Green Mountain Power has installed a Vermont-built Northern Power 100 kilowatt wind turbine at the Route 22A spread run by the Audet family.
Around 100 people attended a formal unveiling of the turbine at the farm last Friday, May 31. Dignitaries who spoke at the event included retired dairy farmer and state Rep. Harvey Smith, R-New Haven; Blue Spruce representative Marie Audet; GMP Chief Executive and President Mary Powell; Cabot Creamery Director of Sustainability Jed Davis and Paul Dawson of Northern Power Systems.
A group of student from the Bridport Central School gave a performance of “Hold onto Your Dreams,” which people at the event said was very warmly received, and brought the gathering to a nice close.
“The Audet family led the way with Cow Power, so it was logical for us to approach them when we were looking for a partner to host a community-scale wind turbine” Powell said. “As far as we know, Blue Spruce is the only farm in the U.S. that’s producing renewable electricity from cow power and from wind power.”
Blue Spruce Farm produces over 4 million gallons of milk each year, which is used to make locally produced Cabot cheese. The family crops 3,000 acres to feed their dairy cows. In 2006 they became the first farm in Vermont to turn cow manure into electricity with a methane digester, and they generate 2.5 million kilowatts of electricity annually for their community.
“Our family has been farming in Bridport since 1958,” Marie Audet said. “We are committed to practices that reduce costs, energy use and waste, with a focus on protecting the environment and improving the health and comfort of our cows. Harvesting the wind that blows across the fields for electricity fits naturally with what we do here.”
The tower of the NPS100 wind turbine installed at Blue Spruce farm is 121 feet tall. Each blade is 39 feet long. It can produce about 155,000kWh per year — equal to the amount of electricity used by 25 homes. It has a 20-year life span. The manufacturer, Northern Power Systems, is a Vermont company with a factory in Barre.
Dawson said this is the first NPS 100 located at a farm in Vermont. Other farm-based wind turbines in Vermont are 10kW or smaller.
The turbine was erected by Aegis Wind, a general contractor based in Waitsfield. Ground breaking was Feb 4 and the project took about a month to complete. Assistance was provided by the Clean Energy Development Fund. As part of the partnership with Green Mountain Power, Blue Spruce Farm will receive a portion of the power produced through net metering.
This is the second NPS100 wind turbine that Green Mountain Power has installed in a Vermont community. The first was installed at the Northlands Job Corps in Vergennes in December 2011. Other Green Mountain Power community scale renewable energy projects include solar arrays in Berlin, Montpelier, Rutland, Rutland Town, Shelburne, and Westminster, along with a dozen Vermont farms producing Cow Power.

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