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CVPS reaches deal to purchase wind power

READSBORO – Central Vermont Public Service announced Thursday it reached an agreement to buy two-thirds of the electricity generated by the proposed Deerfield Wind project in Readsboro and Searsburg.

The project is expected to begin operating in 2012.

Under the agreement, CVPS will buy 20 megawatts at an undisclosed price for nine years as part of CVPS’ efforts to add renewable energy to its portfolio.

According to CVPS, there are “sensitive contract negotiations with other parties” that prevent the cost of the power from being made public at this time. In a statement, CVPS President Robert Young called the power “competitively priced.”

The project, which received a Certificate of Public Good from the Public Service Board in April 2009, would include 15 wind turbines, seven in Readsboro and eight in Searsburg, to produce 30 megawatts at peak operating conditions, or enough to power about 14,000 homes in Vermont for a year.

The Deerfield Wind project is set to be built by Iberdola Renewables in Readsboro and Searsburg on mountain ridges within the Green Mountain National Forest near Route 8.

Steve Costello, a spokesman for CVPS, said the agreement would be the utility’s first modern contract to generate electricity from a wind resource within Vermont’s borders.

While officials from CVPS and Iberdola said they were pleased with the agreement, the power sale is also, in some ways, being mandated by state law.

One law requires Vermont’s energy suppliers to find new renewable power sources to provide at least 20 percent of the state’s energy by 2017.

According to CVPS, the utility will be about 80 percent in compliance with that goal with the Deerfield Wind agreement and other recent agreements. Other sources include “Cow Power,” and solar power in Rutland Town.

For Iberdola, the CVPS purchase meets a requirement of its Certificate of Public Good, which ordered the applicant to prove it would be of economic benefit to Vermont.

Paul Copleman, a spokesman for Iberdola, said the Deerfield Wind proposal would be the company’s first wind project in Vermont.

With a Section 248 permit from the Public Service Board in place, Copleman said Iberdola now had to work on getting a federal permit, because Deerfield Wind is planned for U.S. Forest Service land.

Copleman said the company is hoping to have a decision by the second quarter of 2011.

The project still has its critics. Energize Vermont spokesman Lukas Snelling said the Deerfield Wind project was of “great concern” although he said the advocacy group supported CVPS’ efforts to find renewable sources.

“Our stance is that this project has very much undue environmental impact on the surrounding area, specifically the bear habitat. … This project is going to, and this is (according to) experts, going to have a profound effect on those (bear) habitats. We believe, Energize Vermont as a whole believes, that we can seek out alternatives that won’t have those environmental impacts but will still move us in the right direction energy-wise. … Vermont can do better than to trade our landscape for energy projects,” he said.

Costello said CVPS was aware that there was no “perfect source of energy” that had no impact on anyone. He said the company had to weigh a number of considerations, including cost and environmental impacts.

“When we weigh all those different factors and what Vermonters say they want in terms of renewable energy, we think this is a good source,” he said.