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CVPS unveils solar array and education center

RUTLAND-Embracing renewable energy and hoping to educate Vermonters about it, Central Vermont Public Service unveiled its new Rutland Town solar project and renewable energy education center June 22.

CVPS President Bob Young was joined by Gov. Jim Douglas and representatives of the Stafford Technical Center and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers-Local 300, who helped build the most publicly accessible solar project in the state.

"This will be much more than just a solar project," Douglas said. "It is a true renewable education complex, with hydro generation across Route 7, and a wind measurement tower that may be replaced with a wind turbine or two in the future. Together with the educational displays, these generation facilities will educate thousands of Vermont students who will be welcomed in the next few years."

Along with the solar display, CVPS installed six museum-style educational displays that will provide visitors with a self-guided look at the array and other forms of renewable energy. While formal tours will be available to schools and other organizations, the displays highlight CVPS's power supply history and explain how five different renewable energy sources create electricity.

The displays are designed for all ages, and provide simple but factual explanations of generation via wind, water, biomass, sunlight and cow manure, or CVPS Cow Power(tm).

Matt Lash, marketing and business development director for the IBEW, which represents about half of CVPS's 530 employees, lauded the effort, which also included CVPS Solar and Wind, Sherwin Electric and Reknew Energy Systems Inc.

The 50-kilowatt solar project includes 264 solar panels, each 3 by 5 feet wide, mounted eight at a time to create 33 individual, stationary modules. Under ideal sunlight conditions the project can produce enough energy to power about 50 homes; over the course of an average year, it is expected to provide enough energy to meet the entire needs of 10 to 11 homes.

The approximately $400,000 project was funded by CVPS, a rebate on insurance related to the sale of Vermont Yankee, and a grant from the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund.

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