Vermont deploys its first municipally owned solar farms

Two Vermont towns recently commissioned municipally owned solar plants, making them the first towns in the state to do so.

Together, the plants will produce 2.7 MW of solar electricity — enough to power 229 homes for one year for Stowe and Hyde Park residents — or 7 percent of the combined number of homes in the two cities.

Stowe and Hyde Park approved the project in January after the Vermont Legislature mandated the state’s electric utilities purchase a portion of their electricity from renewable sources. The law will go into effect in 2017 and increase each year until 2032.

Vermont is home to 16 municipal utilities, and Stowe and Hyde Park are excited to lead the way toward a renewable-energy powered future.

“I hope that we’re a path for other small municipals and large municipals to be able to work together,” Carol Robertson, general manager of the Village of Hyde Park and Hyde Park Electric, told Vermont Public Radio. “That was our intent.”

Stowe Electric Department and Hyde Park Village Water & Light will own the projects at a cost per kWh generated below market rates for purchase-power agreements (PPAs) for similarly sized third-party owned projects. The projects were funded with U.S. Treasury Department’s Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program and saved money by developing the two projects concurrently.

Vermont-based Encore Renewable Energy developed the projects in conjunction with the utilities, and Namasté Solar provided provide engineering, procurement, and construction for both projects, while local contractor Peck Solar to do the on-site installation. Yaskawa – Solectria Solar, provided its PVI 28TL and PVI 36TL inverters for the project.   

Update: This article was updated at 9:15 am EST on 12/7/16 to include the role of local Vermont contractor Peck Solar.