The Mountain Times

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GMP awards CSJ Solar Farm building contract to Positive Energy

RUTLAND - Green Mountain Power has selected Positive Energy, a solar developer with offices in Poultney, Vt., and Granville, N.Y., to build the College of St. Joseph Solar Farm atop the Rutland college's athletic center.

"Positive Energy provided a very competitive quote, using American-made materials, local labor and some creative thinking, and won the contract over a solid field of respected bidders," said Steve Costello, GMP's vice president for generation and energy innovation.  "This is the third different bid winner in the four requests for bids we have issued as part of the Rutland Solar Capital initiative, demonstrating some excellent competition for these project awards."

Positive Energy will build the system with assistance from students in the Green Mountain College Renewable Energy and Ecological Design major, and will use materials largely sourced from Rutland-area suppliers. Their project proposal included roof-friendly rubber feet for the solar array ballasts, made from recycled tires.

"Positive Energy's proposal demonstrated the kind of innovative thinking that is necessary to drive our Solar Capital Initiative forward while creating additional benefits to the community," Costello said.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to work with another well-respected college in the Rutland area, and to support GMP in its Solar Capital efforts," Positive Energy President Joe Thomas said.  "Beyond the environmental and economic benefits associated with solar, helping to make the educational connection is the most satisfying. Utilizing recycled materials and domestic resources whenever possible has always been a core operating principle."

The College of St. Joseph signed an agreement with Green Mountain Power last month to host the company's first rooftop solar farm in the city of Rutland, a 98.28-kilowatt system, which was put out to bid in early July.

"I am very pleased that a company with local roots and local workers won the bid for the project," College of St. Joseph President Rich Lloyd said.  "As the college grows and develops its connections to the GMP Energy Innovation Center and Solar Capital Initiative, the economic value of our efforts to the community will only multiply."

The CSJ project is connected to a larger collaboration between GMP, CSJ, Castleton College, Green Mountain College and the Community College of Vermont.  The four Rutland County colleges signed an agreement last month to collaborate on a series of educational and economic development efforts, including exploration of renewable development opportunities like the College of St. Joseph Solar Farm.  The project also supports Vermont's renewable energy goals, which include reliance on renewable energy for 90 percent of the state's electricity needs by 2050, 20 percent through projects in Vermont's Sustainably Priced Energy Development Program by 2017.

Pending regulatory approval, GMP hopes to complete the project this fall, and will own and maintain it under a 25-year lease agreement with CSJ. GMP will credit the college for 10 percent of the project's output. The remaining energy will go onto the local electric grid and will be consumed by local GMP customers.

The project will help GMP fulfill its promise to make Rutland the Solar Capital of New England, with the highest solar capacity per capita of any city in the region, and it will be GMP's first rooftop project, to be followed shortly by a project on the roof of the company's new Energy Innovation Center in downtown Rutland.

GMP already operates the Creek Path Solar Farm on a former brownfield, purchased an interest in the solar farm on the former Poor Farm off Woodstock Avenue, is in the planning stages for the Stafford Hill Solar Farm on a former city landfill, and recently filed for a state permit for the Solar Center at Rutland Regional, a 150-kilowatt project at the hospital.

The project name, tied to the college itself, follows Green Mountain Power's practice of naming its Rutland solar farms after positive attributes within the local community.