LOWELL -- Green Mountain Power will make the promised "Good Neighbor" payments this month to five towns that neighbor the Lowell wind project called Kingdom Community Wind.

GMP made a commitment to give back to surrounding communities by sharing with them the benefits of this project, GMP announced Thursday.

GMP also announced that the area is benefiting from the cheaper electricity produced at the wind project during a time of peak demand and high market electricity prices.

"We are so pleased to announce that thanks to the strong power generation at the Kingdom Community Wind Farm, five Northeast Kingdom towns will receive more than $126,000 this month," GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said.

Good Neighbor payments are being made to Albany, which will receive $41,262, Eden $45,711, Craftsbury $19,986, and Westfield and Irasburg, each of which will receive $10,000. The Good Neighbor Fund provides benefits to the five towns within five miles of the project, based on the amount of power produced. Lowell already receives more than a half-million dollars in annual property tax payments.

The five communities will continue to get Good Neighbor payments annually for the first 10 years the plant operates. Kingdom Community Wind began generating power in November 2012.

The second cold snap of the season is prompting power prices in the region to escalate. GMP and Vermont Electric Cooperative are benefiting from the inexpensive electricity generated by the 21 Lowell turbines, estimated at 9 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour.

During the bitter cold in December, energy prices on the open market hit a high of 60 cents per kilowatt hour, GMP stated.

During that same period, KCW generated enough power for 16,500 homes from low-cost wind, GMP stated.

Projects like KCW are helping GMP hold base rates flat for customers for the next two years, GMP stated. In the last three months, the energy produced at Lowell has exceeded projections, GMP stated.

VEC worked closely with GMP to support the project which is in VEC's service territory and is purchasing power at cost generated by the Lowell turbines.

"It is important for us to deliver highly competitively priced power to VEC's 32,000 member-owners. We have been pleased to join with GMP on Kingdom Community Wind to do so," said Dave Hallquist, CEO at VEC.

A selectman of one of the towns received a Good Neighbors' payment, Jacques Couture of Westfield, said he appreciated the creation of the fund to help area towns in the area around the Lowell wind project.

While some are critical of the turbines, Couture, who runs Couture's Maple Shop and Bed and Breakfast in Westfield, told GMP that he can see the turbines outside his kitchen window, "and I love it.

"I love that they are generating local power. My guests at the B&B love watching the turbines - I've never heard a negative comment."

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