The Mountain Times

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GMP flips switch on Creek Path Solar Farm

The first major project aimed at making Rutland the solar capital of New England has come on-line, with the transformation of a long-troubled utility property that now generates clean, renewable electricity.

"Creek Path Solar Farm, along with our investment in the new Energy Innovation Center in downtown Rutland, is symbolic of the rebirth that we are helping community leaders create for the city of Rutland," Green Mountain Power President and CEO Mary Powell said.  "A year ago the site was an environmental liability; today it's a state-of-the-art generation facility, and it's contributing in a meaningful way to Rutland and Vermont as a whole for the first time in decades.

 "The Creek Path Solar Farm will be the first of many projects in the coming months and years that will help revitalize Rutland's economy while contributing to Vermont's renewable energy goals," Powell said. "We are committed to helping Rutland leaders reinvent the city through solar development, recruitment of new businesses, and education, which will benefit the entire state."
A public commissioning planned for Monday morning, Dec. 17, which was to have included Mayor Chris Louras, local legislators and leaders, and officials from SameSun of Vermont, which build the project with help from Stafford Technical Center students, was canceled due to the weather.

"The energy coming from these solar panels is just a small percentage of the energy that GMP has shown over the last six months," Louras said in a statement.  "They have proven to be a tremendous partner for the city, which we expect to turn into a model for other Vermont communities to emulate."

The 150-kilowatt Creek Path Solar Farm, approved by the Vermont Public Service Board barely seven weeks ago, was built on a former brownfield and was completed two weeks ahead of schedule.  The project is nestled onto a GMP-owned 3-acre lot between West Street, Cleveland Avenue and East Creek, adjacent to Rutland's new Creek Path, for which the solar farm is named.  The site housed an old coal-to-gas plant at the turn of the 19th Century, but had sat largely empty for several decades.

The project is part of GMP's plan to create and inspire construction of enough solar to provide Rutland with the highest solar reliance per capita of any city in the northeast.  The company is building its new Energy Innovation Center in the former Eastman's Building, where it expects to develop new generation, pilot new customer programs, efficiency ideas and educational opportunities for students and customers statewide. GMP is also recruiting new business such as Small Dog Electronics to locate in Rutland.  Vermont Energy Investment Corp. and Neighborworks of Western Vermont announced plans to co-locate some staff at the EIC last week.

GMP has also negotiated a 25-year lease on the former city landfill on Gleason Road, where the company plans to build a 2-megawatt or larger solar farm, and will include solar arrays on the roof of the company's planned Energy Innovation Center.  It is also working to inspire numerous companies to develop projects in Rutland, in collaboration with GMP or independently.
"While these projects are focused for now on Rutland, as we meet our goals here and prove out various concepts through local pilot projects, we expect to bring benefits statewide," said Steve Costello, GMP's vice president for generation and energy innovation.  "What we do here will help customers across Vermont."

Philip Allen, co-owner of SameSun, said the Creek Path Solar Project required his six employees and four more hires lead by Project Manager Phil Parrish, and 10 subcontracting companies, all here in Vermont, were employed.  "And we had the great help of the students from Stafford Tech. The sun is a local resource supplying clean energy, and solar creates important, good-paying jobs," Allen said. "All of us involved with this GMP project, for the decades ahead that this array will be providing power, will look upon it with pride."