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Lowell wind electricity: GMP seeks OK for equipment to boost output

Green Mountain Power wants permission to install equipment that will boost the amount of electricity that its Lowell wind turbines can put out in the New England grid.

GMP, like other wind power generators, is seeing its wind capacity curtailed by ISO-New England, which runs the New England electricity grid.

On Tuesday, Lowell wind operators noted that three of the 21 turbines were not producing electricity because of the curtailment by ISO-New England. Lowell wind was producing 15 megawatts of electricity, 40 megawatts less than the capacity at the time Tuesday afternoon.

That concerned the chair of the governor’s Energy Generation Siting Policy Commission, on a tour of the wind project.

GMP officials said that the Lowell wind project will be able to put out much more electricity into the grid with the addition of a synchronous condenser, valued at $10.5 million.

GMP is asking utility regulators on the Vermont Public Service Board to approve the plan to add the condenser and associated upgrades including a transformer to the Jay Peak switching station in Jay.

The proposed synchronous condenser yard at the substation in Jay will be surrounded by an eight-foot high fence. The existing yard expansion to accommodate the synchronous condenser and associated equipment is approximately 90 by 70 feet.

The synchronous condenser will be housed in a 40 by 68 feet building, installed on the north side of the substation yard.

PSB hearing officer Mary Jo Krolewski will conduct a site visit of the substation on Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. and hold a hearing on the project at 7 p.m. in the Jay town hall.

Motions to intervene are due Feb. 27.

The application is being treated as a minor project.

GMP fought the need for the condenser, but was ordered to provide it in order to sell more power into the grid.

Robert Dostis with GMP said the condenser cost would not significantly affect the average price of the electricity generated by the wind project at 9 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour. That is considered an excellent rate for a utility-owned wind power plant.

Krolewski will also review an unrelated application for a substation upgrade in Derby.

Vermont Electric Cooperative has filed a petition for permission to rebuild its substation on Bridge Road in Derby Center.

A hearing on the proposal will be held on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Derby town office.

Motions to intervene are due March 8.