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Vergennes solar project receives final touches before deadline

VERGENNES — Workers earlier this week were putting the finishing touches on a double solar array near the Vergennes sewer plant that is projected to save the city $4,120 a year on its power bill.
About half of the nearly 500 solar panels are being placed on the plant’s lawn, and the rest sited on a knoll behind the nearby Vergennes-Panton Water District office.
The combined array is rated at 149 kilowatts and is expected to produce 200,000 kwh a year, all of which will be sent directly into the larger Green Mountain Power grid.
Vergennes City Manager Mel Hawley said the city, which paid nothing to erect the array, will receive the value of that power as a credit on the treatment plant’s GMP bill, or $41,200.
The arrangement was brokered and the project designed by Burlington’s Encore Redevelopment. The city will pay a separate project underwriter, which funded the work, 90 percent of the value of the power generated. The remaining credit to the city, according to Hawley in an email, translates to the $4,120 a year at current rates.
The project earned its Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board back on July 18, and on July 31 the city signed a financial agreement with one project underwriter.
But the project was delayed while a new underwriter was brought on board and by the need for GMP to move utility poles and wires to accommodate the hundreds of 1-meter-by-2-meter panels (about 18 square feet each).
The panels were finally delivered in mid-December, Hawley said, and Peck Electric has been onsite for the past couple weeks hooking everything up.
Hawley said late last week the array had to be online by the end of 2013 to take advantage of favorable legislation and make the project economics work.
Hawley said he was confident the project would be “all set” by Tuesday’s deadline, even though he acknowledged the effort was “right on the edge” of its target date.

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