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Vermont-based utility Green Mountain Power (GMP) has begun construction on the Stafford Hill Solar Farm, a federally funded microgrid project powered by solar and featuring battery backup.

GMP says Stafford Hill includes 7,700 solar panels that can generate 2 MW of electricity, as well as 4 MW of energy storage. The $10 million project will be used to power an emergency shelter at Rutland High School and is being built at a closed landfill.

"As part of our commitment to provide reliable, clean and cost-effective power to customers, GMP recognizes how important it is to power critical infrastructure such as schools and shelters in an emergency,” says GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. “Stafford Hill is an important part of that effort, as we will use what we learn here in Rutland to improve how we serve all customers. With the frequency of major storms growing, this project is critical and demonstrates how GMP is continuing to lead the way with innovative energy solutions to meet everyday challenges."

Vermont-based Dynapower designed special equipment for the project, and the Clean Energy States Alliance helped secure funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. Other partners include the state’s governor, city leaders, GMP's Energy Innovation Center, Stafford Technical Center, groSolar, the Vermont Clean Energy Development Fund, VEIC and the Vermont Department of Public Service.

GMP received a certificate of public good for the project on June 15, and preliminary site work is under way. The project is expected to be complete in mid-December.

GMP says Stafford Hill is another important step in the partnership to establish Rutland as the “Energy City of the Future,” where the utility pilots new technology before spreading initiatives statewide. Furthermore, the company says the project represents progress toward the goal of making Rutland City the “Solar Capital of New England.”

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