Editor’s note: This story by Robin Smith was first published in The Caledonian-Record, the state’s third largest daily newspaper.
LOWELL — The 21st and final turbine of the Lowell wind project was “commissioned” Tuesday evening when it was brought online to produce electricity for the grid.
That means Montreal-based Gaz Metro’s subsidiary Green Mountain Power will receive a federal production tax credit for wind energy worth more than $40 million.
“It’s an important thing that we met the deadline,” GMP spokesman Robert Dostis said on Wednesday.
The tax credit for wind energy is slated to expire Dec. 31, and GMP has been working hard to get the turbines operational before the end of the year.
The 21 turbines will continue to be tested over the next two weeks, Dostis said. That means that some will be operating while others will be offline for inspections.
All of the wind towers will be generating electricity for the grid before the end of the year, he said.
The commissioning of the Kingdom Community Wind project on the Lowell ridgeline ends a monumental year for the Orleans-Essex counties area.
Turbine parts began to roll through the region by truck and rail in July to the Lowell wind site and protesters climbed the mountain and blocked the main road in Lowell. GMP has won all of the appeals of the project so far; the remaining appeals are over stormwater runoff permits.
Also this week, state utility regulators approved a federal requirement that GMP pay up to $10 million to the area electricity grid operator, ISO-New England, for the installation of a dynamic reactive device in order to connect to the grid.
The device is the least expensive alternative, according to the Vermont Public Service Board, and therefore is allowed as part of the Lowell wind project’s certificate of public good. The three members of the quasi-judicial board issued the ruling on Monday. Dostis said the payment to ISO-New England won’t impact the cost of electricity generated by the wind project.
Dostis said that GMP will pay less than $10 million to ISO-New England, under an agreement the state’s largest utility has worked out with the grid operator.
Power from the Lowell wind project will cost between 9 cents and 10 cents per kilowatt hour, Dostis said.
The Kingdom Community Wind project in Lowell is in Vermont Electric Cooperative territory. Co-op members voted to support the project. GMP will sell some of the electricity generated by the wind project to VEC at cost.
Once the wind project generates electricity and the amount and value is known, then GMP will begin to know what it will pay annually in taxes to the host town of Lowell.