Green Mountain Power President Mary Powell had people cheering in Rutland on Friday when the utility unveiled their latest project. Speaking to a large crowd, Powell pointed across Merchants Row in downtown Rutland to a blighted property that will soon undergo a makeover.
"As you can see we have made a very important strategic decision for the company, and we have officially acquired the Eastman building and it is the future home of Green Mountain Power’s Energy Innovation center," says Powell.
The Eastman building was once a prosperous stationery shop in Rutland. But for almost a decade the spacious 7,700 square foot property has been vacant and it looks it – with damage from mold and past flooding.
Michael Coppinger, head of the Rutland Downtown Partnership jokingly referred to it as the problem child among the town’s empty storefronts. He says its renovation will be a huge shot in the arm for the city. "This alone, between the redevelopment of the property, but moreover the employees and the activity that it will bring to downtown and certainly this side of Merchants Row is just enormous."
San Diego Gas and Electric opened an Energy Innovation Center earlier this year and GMP officials liked how it was part think tank, part education center and part public space – complete with museum type displays. Steve Costello, Vice President of Generation and Energy Innovation, says that’s what they want to create in Rutland. "We want to be a one stop shop where customers can learn about electricity and energy conservation and renewables and also have a good time doing it," he says.
GMP President Mary Powell says Costello’s team will be thinking creatively about energy needs ten, twenty, even thirty years down the road – which she says will benefit all their customers. "It’s what we’re going to do for the entire state from Rutland," says Powell. "We’re going to do a lot of things that will benefit all of our customers in Vermont not just Rutland."