Burlington Pays Off Power Plant Debt, Grows Renewable Electricity Portfolio

Jun 30, 2014

The city of Burlington now owns a full half of the second-largest power plant in the state.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger posed with the city's 30-year bond for the McNeil Generating Station before burning it in the station's furnace.
Credit Taylor Dobbs / VPR

The city just completed payments on a 30-year bond for its stake in the 50 megawatt McNeil generating station, located just north of downtown Burlington. The plant burns wood chips to generate electricity.

Mayor Miro Weinberger donned a hard hat and tossed the bond into the plant’s furnace as officials and Burlington Electric Department employees looked on. The occasion marked significant progress toward the city’s long-term energy goal of 100 percent renewable sourcing, BED General Manager Barbara Grimes said.

The average load for Burlington Electric, Grimes said, is about 50 megawatts.

“When you combine McNeil at 25, the Winooski One (hydro) plant is at 7.4, we have ownership of the power contract – not the facility – (with) the wind generation in Georgia and in Sheffield, and ... and a long-term contract with wind from Maine, we were able to source Burlington Electric’s power portfolio with all renewables,” Grimes said.

With the $8 million annual payment on the McNeil plant finished after 30 years, Weinberger said the city now has more funds available for other projects, such as the completion of the purchase of the 7.4 Megawatt Winooski One hydroelectric project, approved by voters on Town Meeting Day.