Southern Vermont College, SVMC join Pownal hydroelectric group

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Southern Vermont College, SVMC join Pownal hydroelectric group

Thu, 09/22/2016 - 10:26am -- tim

Hoosic River Hydro, LLC, Pownal tannery dam. photo.

Vermont Business Magazine Southern Vermont College (SVC) is proud to announce its participation in the local effort that is bringing back hydroelectric generation to Vermont. SVC and its campus neighbor Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) have both signed on as part of the Pownal Tannery Hydroelectric Net Metering Group, which will help offset some of their electrical use with a local renewable resource.

“This is a win-win partnership for our College, our community and the state we live and work in,” said SVC President David R. Evans. “This hydropower project not only helps to change the energy landscape in Vermont away from non-renewable resources, it also creates new jobs, helps to bring back fish passages that have not existed for years, and substantially remediates streambed pollution from earlier industrial uses. While the College will not be directly powered by the hydro plant, we can offset most or all of our electricity use through our participation in the net-metering group.”

Evans and Jennifer Macksey, Vice President for Administration and Finance at SVC, met with North Bennington resident and entrepreneur William Scully, the head of Hoosic River Hydro, early in 2016 to discuss the partnership, and immediately knew that SVC wanted to be a part of the project.

According to Macksey, “There is no financial outlay for the College, we just receive the benefits of credits which will offset our electrical costs with new resources. This is a great way to invest and engage in our community, in a way that also benefits the environment.”

In August, Hoosic River Hydro, LLC in North Pownal was approved for $2 million in financing by the Vermont Economic Development Council as part of a $4 million project to redevelop the hydroelectric production facility at the long-dormant Pownal Tannery Dam, now owned by the Town of Pownal. 
VEDA also approved $250,000 in Brownfields Revitalization Fund financing to help project developers remove contaminated sediments as part of the project's approved Corrective Action Plan.  

When completed, the project will consist of a turbine with 500 kW of electrical capacity, and will produce enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 472 average households, reducing CO2 emissions by 1,888 tons each year.   

Scully, who grew up in the California desert but has lived and worked in Vermont for 26 years, has been the driving force behind some major water projects in the region. “Vermont was founded on hydropower,” Scully said, and since 2009 he and his wife Maria and other investing partners have created a movement to reclaim Vermont’s energy future, spurring other projects in the state and the region to bring hydroelectric power back. Scully's projects are seen as models for other sites in New England.

The Pownal project on the Hoosic River was previously the site of an eighteenth-century gristmill, followed by a woolen and cotton mill and then a tannery, which has necessitated a major environmental cleanup. Upon completion in March 2017, the capacity of the site will be restricted to 500kW in order to qualify for the Vermont Group Net Metering program. According to Scully, it will generate three and a half million kilowatt hours per year which is enough energy to power 500-600 homes and represents “a fine savings for these partner institutions.” Other members of the Net Metering Group include The Town of Pownal.

Source: SVC 9.20.2016