Vermont city buys 7.4-MW Winooski One hydroelectric project

The city of Burlington has completed purchase of the 7.4-MW Winooski One hydroelectric project from developer Winooski One Partnership.

Mayor Miro Weinberger and the Burlington Electric Department announced completion of the deal Sept. 4 at a news conference in which John Warshow, one of the project’s former owners, handed over the plant keys to Weinberger.

The city worked for many years to win ownership of the project, licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under the name Chace Mill (No. 2756). The city had filed competing FERC preliminary permit applications to build a project at a nearly identical location to Winooski One on the Winooski River in Burlington.

Subsequently, Burlington Electric Department entered into a contract with Winooski One Partnership in 1991, stipulating that the project would be built by the private developer and that BED would receive an option to purchase the plant after March 31, 2013.

The city issued a $12 million bond in August, with unanimous support of both the Burlington Electric Commission and the Burlington City Council. More than 79 percent of voters approved the purchase at Burlington’s most recent Town Meeting Day.

“During the time the bond is being paid off, Winooksi One power will be very competitive with BED’s other market alternatives,” Ken Nolan, Burlington Electric Department’s manager of power resources, said. “After the 20-year bond is fully paid, Burlington ratepayers will continue to receive power for decades to come, and the only cost will be that of operating the plant.”

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute renewed a low-impact certification in 2009 for Winooski One. The project has a refurbished spillway with crest gates abutting a historic timber crib dam.

The dam is on the National Register of Historic Places. It also has fish passage facilities and a riverside park and trail built as part of the project.

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