Green Mountain Power has commissioned the last of its 21 wind turbines in Lowell – well in time for the company to meet an end-of-the-year deadline for federal tax credits.
GMP Vice President Robert Dostis says the final turbine was hooked up to electricity grid at about 6:30 Tuesday night.
"We’re still doing work on them, testing on them, and that will continue for the next couple of weeks," he says. "But we met our deadline because they have been commissioned. We now are eligible for the federal subsidy, the production tax credit. Those dollars now will serve to reduce the cost of this project for our customers."
Dostis says the tax credits are worth about $40 million, and will help lower the cost of power for customers.
"The $40 million goes directly to benefit customers, because it lowers the cost of the project, which in turn lowers the cost of the electricity or the amount that our customers pay for that power," he says.
But while the utility finished the $150 million Lowell project on schedule, it also faces an unexpected increase in the overall cost.
GMP was required to install a sophisticated piece of machinery called a "voltage reactive device." The equipment is needed to mitigate the impact of the electricity flowing into the grid.
The device cost $10.5 million. Dostis says the added expense will ultimately be borne by ratepayers, but the impact will be slight.
"The new equipment adds to the cost, but the project itself will yield the lowest cost new renewable generation in our portfolio," he says. "And Green Mountain Power’s rates relative to the rest of New England are still amongst the lowest."
The operator of the New England electric grid required GMP to install the device to ensure the stability of the regional transmission network. GMP challenged the decision with federal regulators, but the company lost that appeal.